Minneapolis police officers are finally put on trial for involvement in George Floyd’s death

Story by Eliana Merck, Editor-in-Chief

Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng, the three police officers that were involved in Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, are being accused of failing to intervene when seeing an officer use excessive force on an individual. 


The former officers are being accused of violating Floyd’s civil rights, and ignoring their training and doing nothing to help and save his life. They are required by the Constitution to protect people in their custody and to intervene against fellow officers if they are abusing suspects. After arresting Floyd for passing a fake twenty-dollar bill to buy cigarettes, Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes. Kueng knelt on the man’s knees while Lane held down his legs and Thao kept bystanders from stepping in. In addition to being charged for depriving Floyd of his civil rights, Kueng and Thao are facing an additional charge of not conciliating Chauvin from using excessive force. 


The attorney representing Kueng, Thomas Plunkett, claims that Kueng was “let down” by the police department themselves and that he didn’t receive sufficient training. At the time of Floyd’s arrest, Kueng was a mere three shifts into his new job. Regardless, he should have known that he needed to intervene in the violence happening right in front of him. In addition, Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, claimed that his client “… did everything he possibly could to help…” 


But, according to prosecutor Samantha Trepel, Lane asked Kueng if they should roll Floyd onto his side and Kueng responded with, “No, just leave him.” “When duty required care and action, defendant Lane said nothing…defendant Lane did nothing,” says Trepel. She continues on to say that even after Kueng checked Floyd’s pulse twice and found nothing, he didn’t roll him over and perform CPR, like his training had taught him. Thao restricted bystanders from getting any closer to Floyd, ignoring their pleas for the officers to stop killing him. He had previously asked Floyd, “What are you on?” and proceeded to change the question into a taunt, jeering at the bystanding crowd, “You see, kids, this is why you don’t do drugs.”


All three officers had zero restriction from intervening in Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd, yet they stood dormant, and even assisted in his murder. They have no excuse for what happened on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The three men will also be facing a separate state trial sometime in June of this year on charges of them aiding and abetting in murder and manslaughter.