beach_and_pier_-_2200x270_-_with_npr_and_cal_lu_1.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

A 2nd trial is underway in Minnesota, addressing the murder of George Floyd

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A second trial is underway addressing the 2020 murder of George Floyd. This one is for the officers who failed to intervene as Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck. Here's Matt Sepic of Minnesota Public Radio.

MATT SEPIC, BYLINE: J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were with Chauvin on Memorial Day of 2020 as he pinned Floyd to the street, face down, for more than nine minutes. In her opening statement, prosecutor Samantha Trepel said the three could have saved Floyd's life. Trepel said, quote, "these three CPR-trained defendants stood or knelt next to Officer Chauvin as he slowly killed George Floyd right in front of them." Chauvin was the most senior officer in the group. Kueng and Lane were rookies in their first week on the job. They helped hold Floyd down as Thao kept bystanders away.

University of St. Thomas law professor and former federal prosecutor Mark Osler says the case delves deep into the culture of law enforcement because it focuses not on one officer's actions, but the duty of others.

MARK OSLER: It involves what officers did not do - a failure to intervene, a failure to provide medical care - as opposed to actually performing the act that directly caused his death.

SEPIC: Chauvin pleaded guilty last month to these same federal civil rights charges and is already serving a 22-and-a-half-year state sentence for Floyd's murder. Jurors can expect to see body camera video where rookie officer Lane is twice heard asking Chauvin if they should reposition Floyd.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THOMAS LANE: Should we roll him on his side?

(CROSSTALK)

LANE: OK.

SEPIC: In his opening statement, Lane's attorney, Earl Gray, said his client, quote, "did everything he could possibly do to help George Floyd." And Kueng's attorney, Thomas Plunkett, added that the case is about a rookie who was, quote, "confronted with a complex, rapidly unfolding set of circumstances." Whatever this federal jury decides, the three former officers still face a separate state trial this summer on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

For NPR News, I'm Matt Sepic in Minneapolis.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.