Officer charged over deadly arrest of George Floyd tried to object, court told

One of the four former Minneapolis officers charged over George Floyd’s death tried to warn his fellow officers during the arrest, a court has heard.

J. Alexander Kueng hadn’t yet completed his third full shift as a police officer when the deadly arrest occurred, his lawyer Tom Plunkett claimed.

Mr Plunkett said Kueng allegedly told his fellow officers as they were detaining George Floyd: “You shouldn’t do that.”

An artist's impression of J. Alexander Kueng during his court hearing in Minneapolis
Image:An artist’s impression of J. Alexander Kueng during his court hearing in Minneapolis

Kueng was in court on Thursday along with former officers Tou Thao and Thomas Lane after being charged with aiding and abetting murder, as well as aiding and abetting manslaughter.

A fourth officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with second-degree murder after video showed him placing his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while detaining him on 25 May.

Lane was also new to the job, only on the force for four days when the incident occurred, his lawyer Earl Gray claimed.

Mr Gray said that Lane twice asked Chauvin, a training officer: “Shall we roll him over?” He also expressed concern that Mr Floyd may be in “delirium.”

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“What is my client supposed to do other than follow what the training officer said?” Gray said in court.

George Floyd. Pic: Shutterstock
Image:George Floyd. Pic: Shutterstock

A judge ordered Kueng, Lane and Thao each an unconditional bail of $1m (£790,000) compounded with $750,000 (£595,450) of conditional bail. No pleas were entered.

All four of the former officers face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, according to the criminal complaints.

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Multiple videos have been released on Mr Floyd’s arrest, with one showing him pinned down by three different officers near a patrol car while a fourth stands near his head.

“Please, please, please, I can’t breathe,” Mr Floyd begged in one video caught by a bystander. “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can’t breathe.”

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Lane and Kueng were the first officers to arrive at the scene that night, as they investigated a report that a possible counterfeit $20 (£16) bill had been passed at the Cup Foods grocery store, according to the complaint against Chauvin.

When Lane found Mr Floyd parked nearby, the officer pulled his gun, had him get out of his car and handcuffed him, the complaint said.

A cuffed Mr Floyd was eventually put face-down on the pavement with Kueng holding down his back and Lane pressing down his legs, the charging document against Chauvin said.

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While a distressed Mr Floyd said “I can’t breathe”, “Mama” and “please” several times, Lane asked: “Should we roll him on his side?”

“No, staying put where we got him,” Chauvin responded, according to the complaint.

“I am worried about excited delirium or whatever,” Lane allegedly said.

“That’s why we have him on his stomach,” Chauvin responded, according to the complaint.

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The official autopsy from the Hennepin County medical examiner listed Mr Floyd’s cause of death as a “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”

The medical examiner ruled that Mr Floyd’s death was a homicide, but added that he had “significant” underlying conditions, including hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.

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But an examination funded by Mr Floyd’s family reached a somewhat different conclusion. It found that police officers’ pressing on his neck and body cut blood and air flow to his brain, causing him to die by mechanical asphyxia, pathologists hired by the family said.

Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter last week, but Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison elevated the case by adding a second-degree murder charge on Wednesday.

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Mr Ellison said his team will assert that Chauvin committed a felony assault which unintentionally resulted in Mr Floyd’s death, which fits the requirements for second-degree murder.

This article originally appeared on NBC News.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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