One of the rookie cops charged with George Floyd’s death was only “doing what he thought was right,” his attorney said Monday shifting blame to officer Derek Chauvin who held Floyd down with a knee to the neck. Chauvin is expected to appear in court for arraignment today on second degree murder charges.
According to reports, Lane and fellow rookie officer, J.Alexander Kueng, appeared in court Thursday, and blamed senior officer Derek Chauvin for Floyd’s death. The third junior officer charged in the case has been cooperating with authorities. All three have been charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd’s killing last month.
Attorney Earl Gray tells the Today show his client, former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane, was on his fourth day of duty when he responded to the incident involving Floyd on Memorial Day. He says Lane did not “stand there and watch.”
It was Thomas Lane’s third shift with the Minneapolis Police Department when he helped pin down Floyd, 46, leading to the caught-on-camera death that has sparked protests around the world.
“He was doing what he thought was right,” Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said in a “Today” show Monday.
“He did not stand by and watch. He was holding the legs because the guy was resisting at first,” he insisted of the 37-year-old rookie, who was fired and then arrested and charged along with the three others involved.
Chauvin was filmed keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes — almost three minutes of which the 46-year-old was completely unresponsive after repeatedly begging, “I can’t breathe.”
Gray said Lane questioned his superior’s decision to keep the clearly distressed suspect pinned down — but felt he had to follow his superior’s commands.
“When he’s holding his legs, he says to Chauvin, ‘Well, shall we roll him over because he says he can’t breathe?’ Chauvin says no,” Gray said.
“Now, if you’ve ever been in the military, you ask your sergeant should we do something and he says no, are you going to say, ‘Well no, I’m going to do it anyway’? I don’t think so,” Gray stressed.
Lane, Chauvin and two other officers — Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — were fired from Minnesota police over Floyd’s death.
Chauvin is due to make his first court appearance Monday on charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The others are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Under Minnesota law, the charges are tantamount to a second-degree murder charge, so Thao, Lane and Kueng face the same potential sentence as Chauvin — a maximum of 40 years in prison — if convicted.