Defense attorneys said Kueng, 26, of Plymouth, was working his third shift ever as a full-time officer and Lane, 37, of St. Paul, was working his fourth day as a full-time officer on the day they encountered Floyd.
“What is my client supposed to do but follow what the [senior] officer says?” Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, argued in court. “The strength of this case, your honor, in my opinion is extremely weak.”
Chauvin, 44, of Oakdale, was charged last week and is being held on $1 million bail. He faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges and is scheduled to make his first appearance Monday.
Video showed bystanders pleading with the officers to stop as Lane restrained Floyd’s legs and Kueng held onto his back while Floyd, cuffed, lay stomach-down in the street.
A bystander’s video also recorded Thao, 34, of Coon Rapids, standing watch nearby and brushing aside witnesses’ concerns.
“What was [Lane] supposed to do … go up to Mr Chauvin and grab him and throw him off?” said Gray, arguing that there was no evidence to charge his client.
Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, also attempted to distance his client from Chauvin’s actions.
“At all times Mr Kueng and Mr Lane turned their attention to that 19-year veteran … ” Plunkett said. “[Kueng] was trying â€“ they were trying to communicate that this situation needs to change direction.”
Charging documents show that Lane asked twice if they should roll Floyd onto his side and was rebuffed by Chauvin. Kueng took Floyd’s pulse and told his colleagues, “I couldn’t find one,” according to the criminal complaint.
Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for about two minutes after Kueng’s remarks, the charges state.
Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, did not shift blame onto his client’s partner. Thao had arrived at the scene with Chauvin.
Paule told the court Thao had given a statement to investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Tuesday and that he is not a flight risk because he has deep roots in the community.
Thao is a lifelong resident of the Minneapolis area, is married and has children, Paule said in arguing for a lower bail.
Several of the attorneys sought to humanise the officers, with Plunkett beginning his remarks by offering condolences to Floyd’s family,
Kueng is a black man who grew up in north Minneapolis with a single mother who adopted four at-risk children from the community, Plunkett said.
“He turned to law enforcement because he wanted to make that community a better place,” he said.
Lane previously worked as a juvenile counsellor at a few “juvenile places” in the Twin Cities and once received a community service award from Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo for volunteering with children, Gray told the court.
Lane also provided a statement about Floyd’s killing to two sergeants, gave a “lengthy” statement to investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and jumped into the ambulance that arrived at the scene and performed CPR on Floyd, Gray added.
Floyd was pronounced dead at 9:25 pm CDT at Hennepin County Medical Centre after first responders and ER staff worked on him for about an hour.
The Star Tribune