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AMY FORLITI and STEVE KARNOWSKI
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Prosecutors in the trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights accused the men Monday of standing by as fellow Officer Derek Chauvin “slowly killed George Floyd right in front of them.”
But one defense attorney countered during opening statements of the former officers’ trial that Chauvin called “all of the shots” as the senior officer at the scene and criticized the Minneapolis Police Department for doing too little to train officers to intervene when a colleague should be stopped. Another officer’s attorney focused on Floyd’s struggle with police before they restrained him. And an attorney for the third officer said his client raised concerns about the restraint of Floyd, but was rebuffed.
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. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter last year in state court in the videotaped killing that triggered worldwide protests and a reexamination of racism and policing. Chauvin also pleaded guilty to a federal count of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Tom Plunkett, Kueng’s attorney, highlighted the rookie status of his client and Lane, and said both men deferred to Chauvin and called him “sir.”
“You’ll see and hear officer Chauvin call all of the shots,” said Plunkett, who also hammered at what he called the Minneapolis Police Department’s lack of training, including on intervention against the unreasonable use of force.