State, cops seek to interdict evidence in Floyd murder trial
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Prosecutors and defense attorneys for two former Minneapolis police officers charged with the murder of George Floyd have filed more than 100 motions to limit testimony or evidence at trial — many of them relying heavily on what happened in the two previous trials in Floyd’s death.
J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with accessory to second degree murder and second degree manslaughter. With the selection of the jury from October 24, both sides use what they have learned in previous trials to try to shape the proceedings in their favor. Hearings on the motions are scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
Defense attorney Mike Brandt, who is not connected to the case, said it’s a typical pre-trial maneuver for both sides to guess what the other will present and try to figure it out. gain an advantage. Kueng and Thao “have a better crystal ball,” he said.
Kueng, Thao and Thomas Lane were working with Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, when Chauvin, who is white, used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the pavement for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old black man said he couldn’t breathe and finally grew again. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs, and Thao held back passers-by.
Floyd’s killing was captured in bystander video and has sparked protests around the world amid a judgment on racial injustice.
Many of the claims stem from what has already happened in court. Tom Plunkett, Kueng’s attorney, wants the judge to bar witnesses for the state from addressing jurors directly and asking them to take action on a protest, such as asking them to examine their own neck.
It comes after an expert on the Chauvin trial, lung and intensive care specialist Dr Martin Tobin, at one point loosened his tie, placed his hands on his own neck and encouraged jurors to do the same . as he explained how he believed Floyd was dead. Jurors later said Tobin provided some of the most compelling evidence in the trial..
Tobin also recounted a video of Floyd being held down on the sidewalk and identified what he said was when Floyd died. And paramedic Derek Smith testified that after checking for a pulse and finding none: “Simply put? i thought he was dead.” Bob Paule, an attorney for Thao, wants witnesses to be barred from calling Floyd dead until he has been officially pronounced dead in a hospital. And Plunkett asks that all non-physician testimony be limited to treatments and observations, not Floyd’s cause of death or characterization of whether he was dead or alive.
The state, meanwhile, wants to bar the defense from presenting evidence about the men’s characters and families. The request comes after the federal trial, in which the defendants or their family members spoke about their backgrounds, volunteering and how they overcame hardship — all evidence the state has called no relevant.
The state is also seeking to bar evidence about whether Chauvin was qualified to be a field training officer – after questions about it were raised at the federal trial as part of a defense strategy aimed at to blame the officer training for their actions that day.
The defense wants witnesses to be banned from testifying in uniform unless they testify as part of their job. This comes after Genevieve Hansen, a firefighter who was off duty when she was arrested by Floyd, testified in uniform at Chauvin’s trial. Paule said Hansen would testify as a bystander, and having someone testify under oath while in uniform could lead a jury to mistakenly find her more trustworthy.
The defense also wants an order barring witnesses from carrying signs, after another state witness, Donald Williams, wore a T-shirt under his dress shirt that read “Black Excellence,” the defense says, and was visible to at least one juror. Paule also wants prosecutors not allowed to question Williams about his martial arts training and his understanding of a “blood constriction” and how it affects breathing, saying Williams has no medical training.
The defense wants to prevent the state from asking questions that elicit emotional responses, as prosecutors did in Chauvin’s trial, and they want to bar prosecutors from calling underage bystanders as witnesses, including a girl who was 9 years old at the time.
The defense says calling the child would further traumatize her, stir up emotions in the jury and that her testimony repeated what other witnesses had said. The state countered that the testimony of several bystanders is necessary and that the various people on the street – an older man, teenagers and a young girl – show that it was not the dangerous crowd that the defense tried to represent at Chauvin’s trial.
They also said the fact that a 9-year-old girl knew Floyd was in distress demonstrates how unreasonable the officers’ use of force was.
Kueng, Thao and Lane were convicted in federal court earlier this year for depriving Floyd of his right to medical care. Thao and Kueng were convicted on a second count for failing to intervene and arrest Chauvin.
In July, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson sentenced Kueng to three years in prison and Thao to 3½ years on federal charges. They reported to federal custody on Tuesday: Thao, who is Hmong American, is being held in Lexington, Kentucky, and Kueng, who is black, is in Lisbon, Ohio.
Lane, who is white, avoided a state trial by pleading guilty in May to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to three years on the state conviction and 2½ years on the federal conviction. He is simultaneously serving both sentences in a low-security federal prison camp in Littleton, Colorado.
Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and received a 22½-year state sentence in 2021. He also pleaded guilty to one federal charge. of violating Floyd’s civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years on the federal charge. He is concurrently serving his sentences at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona.
Find full AP coverage of the murder of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd