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One of the former Minneapolis police officers — Derek Chauvin — has already been found guilty for his part in the death of George Floyd. On May 25, 2020, Floyd lost his life after being knelt on for over nine minutes. The other three former officers involved are set to stand trial beginning in August 2021.
Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and aiding and abetting second-degree murder. All three have pleaded not guilty.
According to CNN, prosecutors have appealed to the courts to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against the defendants. Initially, all four former policemen were set to stand trial together.
In January, Judge Peter Cahill ruled that Chauvin would stand trial separate from the other three former officers. Cahill stated this was to follow courtroom attendance guidelines set because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Technically Chauvin’s guilty charge should bear no effect to the other former officers. However, Chauvin’s convictions could actually impact their trials in a few different ways.
Jurors for the men will be instructed to leave Chauvin’s verdicts out of their considerations. However, due to the publicity of Chauvin’s trial they may be aware of the convictions.
In June, Chauvin is set to be sentenced for his crimes. This may have some impact on the three former officers’ trial.
Chauvin could face 30 to 40 years in prison if he receives a stiff sentence. The other officers could take a plea deal instead of standing trial. A plea deal would also be an incentive for prosecutors as well.
The aiding and abetting charges are just one step lower than Chauvin’s charges. This makes a “substantially more difficult case” for the prosecutors to make.
Some of the details disclosed in the case could also engender more empathy from a jury. Especially if they compare Chauvin’s disturbing indifference shown during the incident.
For example, rookie officers Lane and Kueng could receive empathy because they only had a few days of experience before Floyd’s death. Chauvin was asked twice by Lane to shift Floyd to his side.
The trial for the other officers may look similar to Chauvin’s. More than likely, many of the same use-of-force experts, witnesses, and medical experts may be used during the trial of the officers.
This trial may be longer than — and more complicated — than Chauvin’s.
Kueng and Lane were the first officers to respond to Cup Foods store’s report of receiving a suspected fake $20 bill. The two officers found Floyd sitting behind the steering wheel of a vehicle.
According to bodycam footage, Lane pulled out his firearm and pointed it at the 46-year-old Floyd. Lane then yelled at Floyd to show his hands. The officer then pulled him from the vehicle and handcuffed him.
The officers then held a conversation with Floyd on the sidewalk. When the officers attempted to place Floyd into the back of their vehicle, Floyd resisted, saying he was claustrophobic. The video showed the officers struggling with him as they tried to force him into the squad car.
Moments later, Thao and Chauvin arrived on the scene and began to assist the two officers. The footage then shows Chauvin pulling Floyd from the vehicle and placing him on his stomach on the street. Then the officer placed his knee onto Floyd’s back and neck — Kueng held Floyd’s torso while Lane held his legs.
In the video, Floyd is heard repeatedly asking for his “mama” and saying “I can’t breathe.” After nine minutes and 29 seconds, Floyd stopped breathing, passed out, and lost his pulse.
Many are hoping to see further justice for Floyd’s family.
Written by Sheena Robertson
CNN: What’s next for the 3 other ex-officers charged in George Floyd’s death; by Eric Levenson
Pioneer Press: What’s next for the three other former Minneapolis cops charged in George Floyd’s death; by Katrina Pross
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of jpellgen (@1179_jp)’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License