Minneapolis officer charged in death of George Floyd petitions to have his charges dropped

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

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One of four Minneapolis police officers fired and charged with crimes in relation to the death of George Floyd in May is petitioning to have them dropped.

An attorney representing Thomas Lane has filed documents in court asking that his client’s case be dismissed, though he was one of three officers seen on video helping to restrain Floyd, The Hill reported Thursday.

Floyd died after former officer Derek Chauvin held a knee to Floyd’s neck for several minutes, pinning him to the pavement as Lane and two other officers either looked on or helped to hold him down.

Eventually, Floyd fell unconscious and died.

Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter; Lane and the other two former officers have been charged as accessories to those crimes.

In court documents, Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, argued that his client’s charges should be dropped over what he called a “lack of probable cause based on the entire record.” 

He further noted in a memorandum on Tuesday that “the circumstantial evidence proves Lane’s innocence, his lack of knowledge, and no criminal intent.” 

In the memorandum, Gray also noted that though officers were restraining Floyd by holding his face to the pavement, Lane had “questioned Chauvin twice about rolling Floyd on to his side.”

The attorney also noted that Lane accompanied Floyd in an ambulance that had been called to the scene and performed CPR on him en route to the hospital.

“Lane did not know what Chauvin was thinking while restraining Floyd. Chauvin did not verbally tell Lane anything about his intentions other than waiting for the ambulance to arrive,” Gray argued.

The attorney also claimed that since Floyd allegedly offered resistance during his arrest, Lane “knew Floyd needed to be restrained and he knew Chauvin was authorized to use reasonable force to restrain.”

Police officers in Minneapolis were, at the time, authorized to use neck restraints and neck holds in order to subdue suspects who were forcefully resisting arrest, Law Officer magazine reported in May, shortly after Floyd’s death.

Gray further noted in court documents that Lane was hired by the department about a year before the incident and had just completed his officer training only days before Floyd’s death. As such, Lane deferred to Chauvin’s much more extensive law enforcement experience for the arrest.

“During the encounter with Floyd, Lane was ‘going off Officer Chauvin’s experience and what he was saying,’ hold him here until EMS arrives. Lane was aware that Chauvin had 20 years on,” Gray argued.

“Through the [field training officer] process, you trust and go to your senior officers for experience and help on calls, and the best thing to do in a situation, they give direction and you follow their lead. Another expectation is to call senior officers ‘sir’ when you are a new officer,” Gray noted.

Floyd’s death sparked widespread demonstrations that turned into riots and looting in Minneapolis and in cities around the country.

According to the Minneapolis Police Department, officers were responding to a call about a man allegedly attempting to use forged documents at a store. Officers discovered Floyd in a vehicle at the scene when they arrived.

Floyd appeared intoxicated and was ordered by officers to exit his vehicle.

“After he got out, he physically resisted officers,” Minneapolis police spokesperson John Elder told reporters, according to CBS affiliate WCCO. “Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and officers noticed that the man was going into medical distress.”

The four officers involved in the incident were immediately fired.

Jon Dougherty

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