Prosecution rests case against former officers accused of violating George Floyd’s civil rights

Floyd Trial

As prosecutors wrapped up their case against three former Minneapolis Police officers, they called to the stand a use of force expert from Virginia to further hammer home points already made by other witnesses in the trial.

Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane are charged with violating George Floyd’s constitutional rights by not providing medical aid as he slowly suffocated under Derek Chauvin’s knee on May 25th, 2020.  Kueng and Thao face an additional charge of failing to intervene with that use of force.

Timothy Longo is the police chief at the University of Virginia, where he also teaches Police Use of Force classes as an adjunct professor at the law school.  He was brought in by federal prosecutors as a Use of Force expert, but also testified about the duties to intervene and provide medical aid.

Under direct questioning, Longo testified that all three officers’ actions were “contrary or inconsistent” with generally accepted police practices at the time.  He testified that “if someone has stopped breathing, if someone doesn’t have a pulse,” medical attention is essential, and “the responsibility is to begin that process because in that case, every second counts.”

As for the use of force itself, he said when someone is handcuffed, the need is “greatly diminished.”  Asked what happens when resistance stops, “I think the use of force stops.” Under further questioning, he said that based on what he saw on the various videos, any reasonable officer on the scene would have known they had a responsibility to stop Chauvin, especially when Floyd fell unconscious.

Cross-exam began with defense attorney Thomas Plunkett, who represents J. Alexander Kueng.  Plunkett raised a series of questions doubting the MPD training, particularly on the duty to intervene, which he’s characterized as simply words on a PowerPoint lesson plan.

“You don’t know the lesson plan was followed?” asked Plunkett, contentiously taking aim at Longo’s review of the training documents. “I didn’t sit in the class,” replied Longo, but he has to assume the plan was followed.

He also asked if the Minneapolis police taught an “Us versus Them” mentality in training, playing a video embedded in one of the training slides.  It uses the audio of an Al Pacino monologue in the film “Any Given Sunday,” in which Pacino portrays a football coach. While you hear Pacino talking about fighting for every inch, the video shows a montage of officers being assaulted or shot, combined with a video of police funerals.

“That is the last thing officers see in their Use of Force training” and asks if that’s best practice,” said Plunkett.

“The video is disturbing,” said Longo, but said he can’t judge the entire training an officer received based on a four-minute video “that I have no context for how it was used.”

Monday afternoon, the prosecution also called Darnella Frazier, the teen whose video recording of George Floyd’s killing went viral. Frazier recounted the day and, after a break to compose herself after she started crying, faced little cross-examination.

After Frazier’s testimony, the prosecution rested its case. The defense is expected to start calling witnesses on Wednesday morning.

Categories: Crime, Minnesota News