Defense attorneys for three former Minneapolis police officers accused of failing to intervene with officer Derek Chauvin while he killed George Floyd by pressing his knee into the Black man’s neck as he lay facedown, handcuffed and gasping for air, claim that Chauvin was in charge at the scene, the Associated Press reports. “We will ask you to hold these men accountable for choosing to do nothing and watch a man die,” said prosecutor Samantha Trepel of the Justice Department’s civil rights division. Chauvin, the senior officer at the scene, called “all of the shots,” one defense attorney told jurors, adding that the Minneapolis Police Department did too little to train officers to intervene when a colleague should be stopped.
Former officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are broadly charged with depriving Floyd of his civil rights while acting under government authority. One officer’s attorney focused on Floyd’s struggle with police before they restrained him. An attorney for another officer said his client raised concerns about the restraint of Floyd, but was rebuffed. Attorneys for both Kueng and Thao noted that prosecutors must prove the officers willfully violated Floyd’s constitutional rights — a high legal standard that essentially requires prosecutors to prove the officers knew what they were doing was wrong, but did it anyway. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson told jurors the trial could last four weeks.