The four police officers involved in George Floyd’s murder have snatched on each other and are demanding to pursue separate trials. They claim that everyone believes someone else was responsible on the day of Floyd’s brutal death.
Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Jr. Kueng, and Tu Tao were charged with Floyd’s death. Chauvin was charged with first degree murder. He was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while other police officers nailed him to the ground.
All of the others were charged with involvement in murder and second degree murder.
Prosecutors said the four officers should be tried together because of the similar nature of the charges and evidence, and it is impossible to judge the behavior of each defendant in a vacuum.
The former police officers will attend a hearing on Friday, including a prosecutor’s motion for a joint hearing.
Lawyers of the four said in a pre-trial legal document that the trials of the four men together would be problematic.
The lawyers hold the view that it is very likely that an antagonistic defense will be presented at trial. To them, it seem that all officers have different versions of what happened and are accusing each other.
Thomas Lane’s lawyer had previously blamed Chauvin, saying Lane was a rookie after only a few days on the field and was following orders.
Chauvin’s attorneys said in a separate document that the three other police officers were to blame for not calling an ambulance for Floyd, who had fentanyl in his system before leaning against his neck.
He claims that Floyd died of a drug overdose and kneeling on his neck was not the cause.
Other issues discussed included motions by the defense to remove the trial from Minneapolis, segregate the jury, and maintaining jury anonymity.
The defense’s motion to drop the charges will not be considered in Friday’s hearing. The trial is scheduled for March.
Friday’s trial marked Chauvin ‘s first time appearing in court. He is in state custody and has attended previous videoconferencing hearings.
Prosecutors said the case should go to court because the evidence – including testimony, camera footage and the police agency’s use of violence policy – was similar for every officer. Prosecutors said the police were also working closely together.
Prosecutors also said that witnesses and members of Floyd’s family were likely to be traumatized by the multiple lawsuits and that it would be more effective and fair to hold a single trial for all four.
Defense lawyers, however, pushed for separate trials, saying they were likely to offer an “antagonistic” defense, and evidence against one employee could negatively affect another’s right to a fair trial.
Attempts to point fingers are common in court cases. Lawyers for Lane and Queng say their clients are novices who followed Chauvin’s example. Thao’s attorney, Bob Paul, said his client’s role was very different from the rest because he was controlling the audience and guarding the crime scene while the other three held Floyd down.