George Floyd death: Ex-Minneapolis cops, jury shown bystander videos, body camera footage at federal trial

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Jurors seated at the trial for the three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights watched videos on Tuesday that showed Floyd gasping for air as bystanders warned that fellow Officer Derek Chauvin was killing him.

The videos shown Tuesday at the federal trial for former Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao came from now-viral bystander video of the arrest, as well as police body cameras and street surveillance cameras. The footage was also used extensively as evidence in the April 2021 trial against Chauvin, who was ultimately convicted of Floyd’s murder. 

The footage shows Floyd struggling with officers as they try to put him in a police vehicle; the officers holding him on the ground and eventually putting him into an ambulance; and a growing group of onlookers becoming increasingly frantic as Floyd stops moving.

 This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota on June 3, 2020, shows, from left, former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.
(Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

Police had responded to a 911 call that Floyd tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes at a corner store on May 25, 2020. The bystander footage showed Chauvin pinning the 46-year-old man, who was Black, with his knee for nine minutes and 29 seconds, even as Floyd shouted that he could not breathe.

According to prosecutors, Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs, and Thao kept bystanders back.

Kueng, who is Black; Lane, who is White; and Thao, who is Hmong American, are all charged for failing to provide Floyd with medical care. Thao and Kueng face an additional count for failing to stop Chauvin, who is White. Both counts allege that the officers’ actions resulted in Floyd’s death. Chauvin pleaded guilty in November to a federal civil rights violation.

One witness, Charles McMillian, wept on the stand as prosecutors played video in which McMillian pleads with officers to let Floyd breathe.

“I knew something bad was going to happen to Mr. Floyd,” McMillian testified.

“What did you mean by that?” prosecutor Allen Slaughter asked.

“That he was gonna die,” McMillian responded.

When questioned by defense attorneys, McMillian acknowledged that he did not see or hear several things, including Lane asking if Floyd should be rolled onto his side and later doing chest compressions, and Kueng saying that he couldn’t find a pulse.

In this image from police body camera video former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin stands outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, on May 25, 2020, with a crowd of onlookers behind him.
(Court TV via AP, Pool, File)

“You could only see or hear things from your perspective, is that correct?” Tom Plunkett, Kueng’s attorney, asked.

McMillian agreed.

A video that prosecutors played earlier for jurors came from Thao’s body camera, and showed him pushing an onlooker. It was shown during the testimony of the cashier who had taken the counterfeit bill. Christopher Martin, 20, said he had recorded about 30 seconds of video as bystanders were yelling at Thao to check Floyd’s pulse, but stopped when Thao pushed the other man.

Martin said he didn’t have a good view of Kueng or Lane.

This image from video shows Minneapolis police Officers Thomas Lane, left and J. Alexander Kueng, right, escorting George Floyd, center, to a police vehicle outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, on May 25, 2020. 
(Court TV via AP, Pool, File)

While cross-examining Martin, Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, noted that Thao put his hand up before pushing the man, and that the man didn’t listen to Thao’s direction to get back on the curb. Paule said that when Thao pushed the man, he swatted Thao’s hand away.

Martin and McMillian also testified at Chauvin’s state trial.

Some footage played Tuesday showed an extended view of what happened before and after Floyd’s restraint. Part of Kueng’s body camera video showed Kueng going into the corner store after the ambulance left and investigating the report that Floyd used a counterfeit bill.

George Floyd’s girlfriend Courtney Ross leaves the U.S. Federal Courthouse after the first day of testimony in the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers implicated in Floyd’s death on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. 
(Renée Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP)

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson has said that the trial could last four weeks.

Lane’s attorney has said his client will testify, but it’s not known if Thao or Kueng will. It’s also not clear whether Chauvin will testify.

Lane, Kueng and Thao also face a separate state trial in June on charges they aided and abetted both murder and manslaughter.

Fox News” Ashley Soriano contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press. 

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