Attorney For Ex-Cop Involved In George Floyd’s Death Is Trying To Get His Charges Dropped
Newly released transcripts capture George Floyd's final moments alive as one of the officers seeks to have his charges thrown out.
July 09, 2020 at 3:15 pm
A lawyer for Thomas Lane, one of the Minneapolis police officers implicated in George Floyd's death, filed 82 pages of body camera transcripts and a 60-page transcript of Lane's interview with Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators in court on Tuesday as part of an effort to have the charges against him thrown out.
According to the Star Tribune, Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were all charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter after officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25. The killing of the 46-year-old sparked global protest and a national movement to address the legacy of racism in the United States.
The new transcripts paint a fuller picture of what happened between Floyd and the four officers leading up to his death, and Lane's attorney Earl Gray said the documents exonerate his client.
The transcripts were filed along with a motion to dismiss the charges against Lane. In the interviews and in court, Lane and Gray said the officer repeatedly asked Chauvin to turn Floyd over but was rebuffed. While the 37-year-old cannot be seen in the now-infamous video of the incident, he was behind the police car holding Floyd's body down with Kueng as Chauvin knelt on the man's neck, according to the Star Tribune.
Thomas Plunkett, the lawyer for Kueng, confirmed with the Star Tribune that body camera transcripts from both Lane and Kueng were part of the filing.
“I think the public should see it. That shows the whole picture. If they watch the whole thing, people ... couldn’t cherry-pick parts of it. I don’t think [the public] should be restricted from seeing [the body camera footage] because the attorney general has come out and said my client committed murder. Showing just the last little piece there is not fair,” Gray told the newspaper.
In the transcripts of the footage and interview, Lane explained that he and Kueng arrived at the Cup Foods that day because a clerk at the store said Floyd had paid with a counterfeit $20 bill. When the two arrived, the clerk said Floyd was in his car across the street with two other people.
When Lane and his partner approached the vehicle and tried to arrest Floyd, he repeatedly begged them not to shoot him and said he was afraid because he had been shot by the police before. He also said he was recovering from COVID-19 and was claustrophobic, so he did not want to be put into the back of the police car.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. God dang man. Man, I got shot. I got shot the same way, Mr. Officer, before,” Floyd said according to transcripts of Lane's body camera footage.
“I’m not that kind of guy, man, I’m not that kind of guy … and I just had COVID, I don’t want to go back to that,” Floyd said minutes later.
Lane added that he and Kueng handcuffed Floyd and offered to sit with him in the police car if it would make him feel better. Floyd became agitated and reiterated that he was claustrophobic and did not want to be placed in the back of the car.
The two officers called for backup and tried to pull Floyd into the back of the police car by his arms, but he resisted, pushing his way out the passenger side of the car, according to the transcripts. By that point, Chauvin and Thao had arrived and were grabbing Floyd as well.
The officers decided to pull Floyd to the ground, and Lane told investigators that he was kicking them. Lane and Kueng then held Floyd's body down while Chauvin put his knee on his neck and Thao tried to calm down the crowd that had formed in the area.
In his interview with investigators, Lane said he was new to the force and Chauvin had a decade of experience, so he did not feel comfortable questioning his decision to kneel on Floyd's neck. Gray said his client had finished his training period on May 20, just five days before he was involved in Floyd's death, KARE11 reported.
As they held him down, Floyd yelled for his mother and begged the officers to give a message to his family as he lost consciousness.
“All right, all right. Oh my god. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe this … Mom, I love you … Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead,” Floyd said, according to the body camera footage from Lane.
According to the transcripts, Floyd told the officers that he could not breathe more than 20 times, and the phrase has since become a refrain in the protests over his death.
“Come on, man. Oh, oh. I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe. They’ll kill me. They’ll kill me. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” Floyd said, according to the transcripts.
When asked if they should turn Floyd over, Chauvin repeatedly said it was not needed. Lane called an ambulance shortly after.
Gray told the Star Tribune on Wednesday that the case against Lane should be dismissed because Lane did not know Chauvin was committing a crime and therefore did not conspire with him to kill Floyd. The filing includes a claim that Chauvin did not tell the other officers what he was thinking so they could not have known that he meant to kill Floyd by kneeling on his neck.
“Lane did not know what Chauvin was thinking while restraining Floyd. Chauvin did not verbally tell Lane anything about his intentions other than waiting for the ambulance to arrive,” Gray wrote in a memo accompanying the dismissal filing.
"During the encounter with Floyd, Lane was 'going off Officer Chauvin’s experience and what he was saying,' hold him here until EMS arrives. Lane was aware that Chauvin had 20 years on. Through the [field training officer] process, you trust and go to your senior officers for experience and help on calls, and the best thing to do in a situation, they give direction and you follow their lead. Another expectation is to call senior officers 'sir' when you are a new officer," Gray added.
All four officers have since been fired from the police force, and Lane, Kueng and Thao have been released on bond as they await trial. Chauvin is facing second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.