Minneapolis, MN – Attorneys for a second officer charged in the death of 46-year-old George Floyd as he was being arrested by the Minneapolis police have filed a motion to dismiss the two aiding-and-abetting charges citing a lack of probable cause.
Robert Paule and Natalie Paule, the Minneapolis lawyers representing former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao, filed a three-page motion on Thursday that argued Hennepin County prosecutors had failed to show probable cause when they charged Thao, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Officer Thao was the officer in the video who was handling crowd control while Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin held Floyd down with a knee on his neck with the assistance of former rookie Officers Thomas Lane and Minneapolis Police Officer J. Alexander Kueng.
The video showed Officer Thao had his back to Floyd and the officers for most of the incident.
In the motions, the Paules argued that prosecutors had failed to show that Officer Thao knew the officers behind him were going to commit a crime, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Nor did prosecutors show their clients actions or presence at the scene were done to further commission of that crime, according to Thao’s lawyers.
Former Officer Thao’s attorneys wrote that they planned to submit evidence, including their client’s own bodycam video, along with police training materials, and video from former Officer Lane’s bodycam, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
They also wrote former Officer Thao had lacked the required state of mind to support the charges that had been levied against him.
Attorney Earl Gray, who is representing former Officer Lane, filed a motion along with supporting documents on July 7 that asked the judge to dismiss the charges against his client in connection with the death of Floyd, KMSP reported.
His motion also said that there was a lack of evidence to support probable cause for the charges against the former officer.
Former Officer Lane is also charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25.
The supporting documents included a transcript of the audio from former Officer Lane’s bodycam, a transcript of an interview with another officer at the scene, and pictures from inside the vehicle Floyd was in when officers tried to take him into custody, KMSP reported.
Gray previously revealed that two of the officers charged in connection with Floyd’s death were rookies under the tutelage of former Officer Chauvin, their field training officer (FTO).
The attorney said that Floyd’s arrest occurred during Lane’s third shift as a police officer, according to NBC News.
It was the second shift working for former Minneapolis Police Officer J. Alexander Kueng.
Kueng’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, said that Kueng tried to intervene and told the other officers, “You shouldn’t do that.”
Lane also tried to intervene, a claim backed up in the charging documents, by asking Chauvin “Shall we roll him over?”
Chauvin responded “No, staying put where we got him.”
According to the charging documents, Lane then expressed concern about excited delirium and Chauvin responded, “That’s why we have him on his stomach.”
“What is my client supposed to do other than follow what the training officer said?” Lane’s attorney said.
Despite the fact that Floyd died during their first days on the job, both Lane and Kueng have been charged with lesser crimes than Chauvin but that carry the same potential sentences as the second-degree murder their former FTO is facing.
Former Officer Thao is also facing up to 40 years in prison if he is convicted, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
All of the officers involved in the arrest were fired the day after Floyd died in custody.
Former Officer Thao and both former rookies were released on $750,000 conditional bail each.
The motion from Thao’s attorneys called for the charges to be dropped before their client’s next scheduled hearing on Sept. 11, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Floyd died while he was being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase at a deli.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Viral cell phone video showed then-Officers Chauvin, Kueng, and Lane holding Floyd on the ground while Officer Tou Thao kept the crowd from advancing on the officers.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.
Floyd was pronounced dead 90 minutes later at the hospital.
After three days of violent riots and looting that left Minneapolis and its sister city, St. Paul, in flames, the state investigative agency announced it making an arrest even though the medical examiner’s preliminary report found no physical evidence that Floyd had suffered from asphyxiation or strangulation at the hands of the Minneapolis police, according to charging documents.
The charging documents state, “The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
Floyd’s family released an independent autopsy report by veteran forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden on June 1 that disputed that information and said the man died of asphyxiation much in the same way Eric Garner allegedly died from a choke hold in New York in 2014, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The Eric Garner autopsy report showed no damage to any area of his neck, and it was determined that he died of a medical emergency induced by officers who were arresting him. The medical examiner declared it was a homicide, but a grand jury refused to indict the officer on the theory that officers caused Garners death by arresting him.
But the final autopsy findings released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office hours later confirmed that Floyd had died from heart failure.
“Cause of death: Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” Floyd’s autopsy said. “Manner of death: Homicide.”
“How injury occurred: Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the report continued. “Other significant conditions: Arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; recent methamphetamine use.”
The toxicology results showing fentanyl and methamphetamine directly contradicted assertions by the forensic pathologist that Floyd’s family’s attorneys hired to dispute the initial medical examiner’s report.