By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin
St. Paul, MN – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has authorized the Minnesota National Guard to help local law enforcement in anticipation of protests as the federal trial of three officers charged in connection George Floyd’s death comes to a close.
The trial of Former Minneapolis Police Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane, and Tou Thao on charges they violated Floyd’s civil rights is expected to end this week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The governor said the city of St. Paul, where the federal trial was being held, had requested the assistance from the state.
Walz also deployed the National Guard for the trial for former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of Floyd’s murder on April 20, 2021, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of Minnesotans, and at the request of the city of St. Paul, I have authorized the Minnesota National Guard to make preparations to assist local law enforcement agencies as needed,” the governor said in a statement. “The National Guard will be available to help keep the peace, ensure public safety and allow for peaceful demonstrations.”
Walz office said a press release that the guard members wouldn’t be immediately deployed into the city but rather, would be on standby to respond if they were needed, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in May of 2021 that a federal grand jury had charged Chauvin, Thao, and Kueng each with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, NBC News reported.
Lane was charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
The indictment said that Chauvin “willfully deprived George Floyd of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free from an unreasonable force by a police officer,” NBC News reported.
Thao and Kueng were charged with failing to intervene in Chauvin’s unreasonable use of force, CNN reported.
All four former police officers were federally charged for failing to render medical aid to Floyd.
All four former officers initially pleaded not guilty to all of the federal charges.
But then Chauvin changed his plea to guilty on Dec. 15, 2021.
By pleading guilty to the federal charges, Chauvin will avoid another lengthy and expensive trial and may get a lesser sentence, NBC News reported.
Thao, Kueng, and Lane will face trial in Hennepin County later this year for Floyd’s murder.
The press release announcing that Walz had activated the Minnesota National Guard also said troops had been ordered to assist the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis if they requested assistance with the current protests surrounding the officer-involved shooting of 22-year-old Amir Locke.
There have been protests every day since Locke was killed while officers were serving a “no knock” warrant on Feb. 2.
Speaker at a BLM protest for Amir Locke tells the crowd to burn police precincts: “Power to the looters! Power to the rioters!” pic.twitter.com/DFsR0uw7zy
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) February 6, 2022
According to Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Interim Chief Amelia Huffman, an eight-person MPD SWAT team was executing the warrant in connection with a St. Paul Police Department (SPPD) homicide investigation.
Cars blasting their horns downtown Minneapolis at the beginning of a car caravan to protest the shooting death of Amir Locke by Minneapolis police earlier this week. pic.twitter.com/WlMop4QQTm
— Renee JonesSchneider (@reneejon) February 5, 2022
Bodycam footage released Thursday showed an officer unlocking the apartment door just before the officers “loudly and repeatedly announced their presence” and entered the apartment, the MPD said in a news release.
They continued announcing themselves as they made their way into the living room area towards a couch, where a figure could be seen moving beneath a white blanket.
One officer kicked the couch and ordered the suspect to get onto the ground.
That’s when the suspect pointed a handgun in another officers’ direction, resulting in the officer firing at him multiple times, according to the press release.
— LockharTVMedia (@LockharTVMedia) February 6, 2022
“That’s the moment when the officer had to make a split-second decision, to assess the circumstances and to determine whether he felt like there was an articulable threat, that the threat was of imminent harm – great bodily harm or death – and that he needed to take action right then to protect himself and his partners,” Chief Huffman said, according to Bring Me The News.
“Ultimately, that decision, whether that threshold was met will be examined by the county attorney’s office that reviews this case,” she added.