Two Rookie Officers Charged in George Floyd’s Death Were Being Trained by Derek Chauvin, Lawyer Says

Former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, left, and Thomas Lane.

By Published on June 8, 2020

A lawyer speaking on behalf of former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane on Friday said Lane and former officer J. Alexander Kueng were less than a week into training with Derek Chauvin as their supervisor when George Floyd died.

Lane was on his third shift as an officer and Kueng was on his fourth, and the two spent a week in uniform under Chauvin’s guidance before being charged as co-conspirators in the death of George Floyd, according to The Associated Press. Attorney Earl Gray said Lane had no option but to follow his senior officer’s guidance, and he called the case against him “extremely weak.”

Lane held Floyd’s feet, according to Gray, while Chauvin knelt on his neck for over eight minutes until he was presumed dead. Chauvin — who was promptly fired from the Minneapolis Police Department after the incident, along with the three others — was arrested a few days later and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, the AP reported. His murder charge has since increased to second-degree.

Gray also reportedly said Lane was concerned about Floyd’s well-being and asked Chauvin if he would consider readjusting Floyd’s position two times.

“What was my client supposed to do but follow what his training officer said? Is that aiding and abetting a crime?” Gray asked.

Former officers Lane, Kueng and Tou Thao were arrested Wednesday after they were deemed co-conspirators in Floyd’s killing by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. The trio had their bond set at $750,000 a person when they made court appearances the following day.

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Gray and Kueng’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, requested lower bail from the court, but were denied on the premise that the pair were full officers since December 2019, and were undergoing supervised field training that was necessary before being deemed completely qualified, according to the AP.

Kueng, who is black, was born and raised in a black-majority neighborhood. He joined the police department because he “wanted to make his community a better place,” his lawyer said.

There has been talk within the Minneapolis City Council about removing the police department altogether. Keith Ellison’s son, Democratic City Council president Jeremiah Ellison, said Wednesday that the city would “dismantle” the police force and “dramatically rethink” public safety.


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