ST. PAUL (Minn.) — Monday’s witness stand was taken by the former head of training at the Minneapolis Police Department. He is being charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights. Defense attorneys are trying to prove that the officers’ training was insufficient.
Last week Inspector Katie Blackwell began her testimony by stating that former officers J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, acted in a manner that was inconsistent with department policies when Floyd died. Derek Chauvin, a fellow Officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 mins while Floyd was handcuffed and facedown, and gasping for breath.
Blackwell stated that officers are trained to intervene when a fellow officer uses unreasonable force. They are also taught to use the minimum force possible and to stop resisting if necessary. They must also render medical assistance until medical personnel arrive to “ensure that we do everything possible to save a person’s life.”
Federal prosecutors claim Kueng, Lane, and Thao failed to follow their training when they failed in their duty to save Floyd’s lives on May 25, 2020. Kueng placed Floyd on his back and Lane held his legs. Thao resisted any bystanders. Protests across the globe erupted after the videotaped murder.
Robert Paule, Thao’s lawyer, pushed back and questioned Blackwell Monday.
Paule mentioned that, while department policy allows officers to use their legs for a neck restraint implementation, they weren’t taught how to do so.
He stated that police officers had received no training in using a leg to restrain themselves. Blackwell also agreed.
Paule referred to some points made last week by Thomas Plunkett, Kueng’s lawyer, who stated that intervention is not taught when officers are trained for use-of force scenarios.
Blackwell has also agreed to tell recruits that they must not argue with their instructors. Chauvin was the senior officer on the scene, while Lane and Keung were rookies.
Blackwell spent hours discussing policy and training. She stated that Thao had attended multiple refresher courses in use-of force policies, including 2018 and 2019, as well as that Lane and Kueng had received repeated lessons on the subject while they were at the academy in 2019.
Kueng, who are Black, Lane, a white man, and Thao who are Hmong Americans, were charged with willfully denying Floyd his constitutional rights, while they were acting under the authority of the government. All three officers are charged with one count. They were aware that Floyd required medical attention and failed to provide it. Thao and Kueng are charged with not intervening to stop Chauvin. Both charges allege Floyd’s death as a result of the officers’ actions.
Prosecutors argue that Floyd, 46, can be deprived of his rights by proving that Floyd’s conduct was “blatantly wrong”.
Chauvin was convicted in state court of murder and manslaughter last year. He pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges. In June, Lane, Kueng, and Thao will also be facing a separate state trial on charges that they assisted and abetted murder.