Ex-cop Derek Chauvin’s conviction comes months before his three colleagues who were also at the scene stand trial in George Floyd’s death.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on Tuesday of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree murder. Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.
The other three ex-officers who were fired in light of Floyd’s death, Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, were charged on June 3 with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. The trio is expected to stand trial together on August 23, according to the New York Post.
According to the Star-Tribune, Kueng and Lane were both new to the force; the day of Floyd’s death was Lane’s fourth full-time day on duty. The New York Times reported that Chauvin had trained Kueng, and the May 25 call involving Floyd was his third shift as a full officer. Thao reportedly had six misconduct complaints on his record at the time of his firing.
KARE reported that the Minnesota Court of Appeals has a hearing scheduled for May 20, as prosecutors want to introduce a third-degree murder charge against Thao, Lane, and Kueng. In March, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill reinstated the same charge against Chauvin, after the Court of Appeals’ determined he erred in dismissing the charge months earlier.
On May 25, 2020, the four Minneapolis police officers were filmed arresting Floyd, 46, on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at the Cup Foods supermarket. After police pulled Floyd out of his car and handcuffed him, Chauvin was filmed forcing his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
During the arrest, Lane is heard asking if they should roll Floyd on his side, to which Chauvin responds, “No, staying put where we got him.”
“I am worried about excited delirium or whatever,” Lane then says, according to Reuters.
Chauvin answers, “That’s why we have him on his stomach.”
Bystander and police’s body camera footage shows Floyd gasping for air and saying he could not breathe before he lost consciousness and died.
Hennepin County’s official autopsy report stated that Floyd’s blood had a fentanyl concentration of 11 nanograms per milliliter. While the medical examiner described the concentration as high and potentially fatal, they stressed that it does not mean Floyd died of an overdose.
The report also stated that there was no evidence “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” in Floyd’s death. Conversely, an independent autopsy asserted that sustained forceful pressure on Floyd’s neck and back led to his death.
Both the county’s and the independent report mentioned drugs in Floyd’s system. However, both reports listed his cause of death as a homicide.
Chauvin’s legal team argued that a “speedball” — an opioid and a stimulant combination — along with hypertension led to Floyd dying of cardiac arrhythmia. However, the prosecution argued that video and forensic evidence disproves Floyd was dying from a drug overdose, and that Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes killed him.
Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in two months. Meanwhile, Thao, Lane, and Kueng remain free on $750,000 bail as they await trial.
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[Featured image: Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng, Tuo Thao/Hennepin County Jail]