Former officers Tou Thao, 36, J. Alexander Kueng, 28, and Thomas Lane, 38, tried to restrain Floyd as Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck and back for more than 9 minutes during the arrest, resulting in Floyd’s death. Thao, Chauvin’s partner, stood nearby and kept back a crowd of horrified onlookers, while Kueng and Lane — both rookie officers in their first days on the job — restrained Floyd’s torso and legs.

“They chose not to intervene, they chose not to aid Mr. Floyd,” Assistant US Attorney Manda Sertich said in closing arguments. “This is a crime. The defendants are guilty as charged.”

All three ex-officers testified on their own behalf during the trial, saying that they were inexperienced, received inconsistent training and deferred to Chauvin’s seniority in explaining why they didn’t intervene.

“I think I would trust a 19-year veteran to figure it out,” Thao said on the stand, referring to Chauvin.

This is how loved ones want us to remember George FloydThis is how loved ones want us to remember George Floyd
Chauvin was convicted last April of Floyd’s murder in state court, and he pleaded guilty to federal charges in December as part of a plea deal.

Thao, Kueng and Lane have pleaded not guilty and are being tried together. They also face a state trial later this year on charges of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s murder.

Officers were ill-equipped to intervene, defense says

Left to right: J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, Tou ThaoLeft to right: J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao

Before the court ended for the day, prosecutors and defense attorneys spoke at length during closing arguments about the charges.

Defense attorneys argued that the indictment language of “willfully” failing to aid Floyd or stop Chauvin does not apply.

Attorney Robert Paule, on behalf of Thao, said that a person acts willfully when they commit an act with a bad purpose or improper motive to disobey or disregard the law. He added that “just because something has a tragic ending doesn’t mean it’s a crime.”

Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said there was no specific intent on his client’s part.

“If it is not shown there’s a willful act with specific intent … with proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” then it hasn’t been proven, Plunkett said.

Three former officers have testified about what they saw when George Floyd died. Here's what they saidThree former officers have testified about what they saw when George Floyd died. Here's what they said

The core of Plunkett’s argument was that Kueng was an inexperienced officer and subordinate to Chauvin, a department veteran of more than 18 years and the field training officer in charge.

Chauvin informed his colleagues Floyd needed to be taken to the ground, Kueng has said, and Thao earlier testified that the intention was to protect him and any bystanders. No one meant to hurt Floyd, Thao said.

It was not unusual to see Minneapolis officers use their knees during an arrest, Thao said. The knee-to-neck move is banned by several police departments, but the MPD allows officers to restrain suspects’ necks if they’re aggressive or resisting.
Plunkett showed the court Minneapolis Police Department training slides, arguing that the training was incomplete and inconsistent. Thao testified that he had not seen officers be corrected when using knees to restrain people in the past, Plunkett noted.

Earl Gray, attorney for Lane, also touched on Chauvin’s seniority over the other former officers. “We don’t need commanders to tell us that if someone has seniority over you, you listen to them,” Gray said. The date of the incident was Lane’s fourth day with the department.

Lane’s questions during the arrest about repositioning Floyd was also a sign that Lane “was never deliberately indifferent,” Gray argued.

When Lane mentioned he was worried about so-called “excited delirium” and suggested flipping Floyd on his side, Gray said, he showed “concern about serious medical needs. Is that deliberate indifference? No!”

‘They chose not to intervene’

Floyd, a 46-year-old Houston native who moved to Minnesota for work, was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a convenience store. During his arrest, he looked to be in distress and cried out repeatedly while being knelt on by Chauvin that he could not breathe. Prosecutors argue the three other officers failed to properly intervene in these moments.

Assistant US Attorney LeeAnn Bell argued the force primarily applied by Chauvin became unreasonable once Floyd went unconscious, and “Officer Thao and Officer Kueng had a duty to stop it.”

“Force used has to be appropriate and proportional at the time,” she said. “If they go unconscious, you cannot continue to use force.”

Derek Chauvin joked while restraining George Floyd, former officer testifiesDerek Chauvin joked while restraining George Floyd, former officer testifies

“If you can’t find a pulse, your answer cannot be ‘I did nothing,'” she added as she singled out some of the defense’s arguments, in particular former officer Lane, who at one point helped restrain Floyd on the ground.

“Mr. Lane could get up from where he was,” she began, saying he could have walked over and looked for a pulse. “It is not reasonable not to do anything and excuse it with ‘I’m down by the legs,’ so I just didn’t do anything.”

Bell also attacked the defense’s continued arguments and definitions of “willfully” as laid out in the indictment. “They had opportunity and means to (help) and didn’t … Disregarding that is willfulness,” she said.

“They didn’t have to intend to harm Mr. Floyd, they just needed to know they could take certain actions under the law and failed to do so,” Bell later added.

Assistant US Attorney Manda Sertich said Tuesday that all the witnesses, “including the defendants,” agreed they had a duty to intervene.

CNN’s Julia Vargas Jones and Omar Jimenez reported from St. Paul, Minnesota; Travis Caldwell wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Bill Kirkos, Brad Parks, Amir Vera and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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