ST. PAUL, Minnesota.
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) — Federal prosecutors closed their case Monday against three former Minneapolis police officers accused of violating the civil rights of George Floyd, setting the stage for two of the officers to soon speak as part of their defense.
The prosecution closed its case after nearly three weeks of testimony from doctors, police and bystanders, including the teenager who recorded widely circulated video showing Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck during 9 1/2 minutes while the 46-year-old black man was handcuffed, face down and begging for air.
J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are widely accused of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights while acting under government authority. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane held his legs while Thao held back passers-by.
All three are accused of depriving Floyd of medical care. Kueng and Thao are also accused of failing to intervene to stop the May 25, 2020 killing, which sparked protests around the world and a re-examination of racism and policing. The charges allege that the officers’ actions resulted in Floyd’s death.
Before Monday’s hearing ended, Thao and Kueng told the judge they planned to testify. Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, told the jury earlier that Lane would also speak, but on Monday Gray said he and Lane would like to talk more about it before making a decision.
The defense is expected to begin presenting witnesses on Tuesday.
Darnella Frazier, who was 16 when Floyd was killed, was the last witness to testify for the prosecution. Frazier, who received a special Pulitzer Prize citation for her video of the murder, said she knew Floyd needed medical attention when he became unresponsive.
“Over time, it got weaker and eventually stopped making sounds overall,” she said.
Moments after speaking, Frazier, now 18, broke down in tears, saying, “I can’t do it. I’m sorry.” The judge, who tried to keep emotional testimony out of the trial, paused briefly before resuming. When Frazier returned, she spoke of seeing Floyd on the ground with Chauvin’s knee on his neck.
“It looked like he was very uncomfortable and he kept saying, ‘I can’t breathe,'” she said, adding that Thao looked protective and protective. patrol the area. When prosecutor LeeAnn Bell asked what it seemed like Thao She said Floyd “was the only one who needed protection at the time.”
She added: “I didn’t see George Floyd resist at all. The only thing I saw him do was really try to find comfort in his situation… try to breathe and get more oxygen.
Earlier Monday, a use-of-force expert testified that officers should have intervened. Testimony from Tim Longo, the police chief at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, was peppered with outright objections, numerous warnings from the judge that the information was repetitive, and combative cross-examination.
Gray, Lane’s attorney, asked Longo if he claimed that “my client, a four-day veteran” should have thrown Chauvin off of Floyd. Kueng and Lane were just days away from their full officer positions.
“I think someone should have done something, yeah,” Longo replied.
Gray continued, thundering, “What else should they have done but that?”
“Nobody asked Chauvin to take his knee out of his neck,” Longo said after a bit more discussion.
Longo testified earlier that an officer has a duty to take “positive steps” to prevent another officer from using excessive force.
“The term ‘intervene’ is a verb, it is an action word. And that requires action. And what you do is stop the behavior,” he said.
Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of murder and manslaughter in state court last year and later pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge.
Lane, who is white; Kueng, who is black; and Thao, who is Hmong American, will also face a separate trial in June for aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Find full AP coverage of the murder of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd
Amy Forliti and Steve Karnowski, Associated Press