2 police officers go to court for helping kill George Floyd

Two former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death are facing a state aid and abetting trial, the third and likely final criminal trial in a murder that mobilized protesters against racial police injustices around the world.

J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have previously been convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights on federal counts and have begun serving those sentences. Many witnesses expected to testify at her state trial have already done so at both her federal trial and the state trial of her former colleague Derek Chauvin. While much of the evidence in this trial will appear similar, there will be some key differences.

Here are a few things to know as jury selection begins Monday: WHAT IS THIS TRIAL ABOUT? Kueng, Thao and Thomas Lane worked with Chauvin on May 25, 2020 when Chauvin, who is white, used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the sidewalk for more than nine minutes, the 46-year-old black man said he said couldn’t breathe it and finally became still. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs and Thao restrained bystanders. Kueng, a black man, and Thao, a Hmong-American, are charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree accessory to manslaughter, respectively. Prosecutors have to prove they willfully helped Chauvin. They don’t have to prove they intended to kill Floyd or cause him major physical harm. THE THIRD TRIAL Chauvin was the first officer to be tried in a week-long livestream trial filled with emotional testimony from bystanders, graphic video of Floyd’s moments of death and expert testimony on the use of force and the mechanics of breathing. He was eventually convicted of murder and manslaughter. The second trial in Floyd’s death took place in federal court, where Lane, Kueng and Thao were all convicted of federal civil rights violations.

“I think it will repeat itself exhaustingly for the witnesses who have testified multiple times and don’t want to experience it again,” said Rachel Moran, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. But there will be some nuances. Moran said this case could get more difficult for prosecutors: While Chauvin’s offense was more direct for having his knee on Floyd’s neck, in this case prosecutors must show what Kueng and Thao did on purpose to help him commit a crime .

Judge Peter Cahill has limited expert witnesses to avoid repetition. He has also ordered lawyers not to ask questions designed to evoke emotion. SOME NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCES Witnesses are not allowed to ask the jury to take action and follow demonstrations – as lung and critical care specialist Dr. Martin Tobin did during Chauvin’s trial. In that case, Tobin put his hands on his own neck and encouraged the jury to do the same as he explained how he believed Floyd died. The jury later said that Tobin provided some of the most compelling evidence of the trial.

It is also not known if a girl, who was only 9 at the time of Floyd’s killing, will testify. Prosecutors want to call her to argue that even a young girl knew something was wrong – so officers should have known, too. The defense has responded that their testimony is not so different from that of other viewers and will only play on the jury’s emotions. She previously testified at Chauvin’s trial.

Cahill encouraged prosecutors not to call the girl because testifying in a murder trial can be traumatic, especially for children, but he didn’t stop them.

HAVE SPECIALS BEEN OFFERED? Yes. Both Kueng and Thao declined offers of three-year sentences, which would have been served concurrently with their federal sentences. Thao told Cahill, “It would be a lie if I accepted any offer.” That set her apart from Lane, who pleaded guilty to assisting manslaughter and received three years. Kueng and Thao risk significantly longer prison sentences; The murder charge has a recommended sentence of 12 1/2 years, and prosecutors say they intend to seek more. “The reality is that it is their right (to go to court) and Tou Thao in particular just seems to think he didn’t do anything wrong and therefore he can’t admit to doing anything wrong,” Moran said.

JURY SELECTION Hundreds of would-be jurors were sent a 17-page questionnaire asking, among other things, how much they know about the case, what they think of the police and whether they’ve attended civil rights marches.

Sixteen people are selected; 12 is being discussed.

The judges are individually asked for their views and whether they can be fair. An unlimited number of potential jurors may be removed for “reasonable cause,” such as when a juror has shown that he or she cannot be impartial. Either side may also discharge jurors with a limited number of forced strikes that require no reason but may be challenged if the other side believes it was solely due to a potential juror’s race or sex.

The defense gets 10 such strikes – five for each defendant – and the state gets six. The key will be finding a jury that can be impartial. Moran said that while diversity on a jury is important, the notion that a jury’s racial composition influences the outcome has been challenged. She noted that the jury that convicted Kueng and Thao on federal charges was mostly white, as was the state jury that tried Kim Potter, then an officer at Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb, for the fatal shooting of the blacks Motorist Daunte Wright convicted in 2021. STUDY LOGISTICS Opening statements begin November 7th. The hearing will not be broadcast live. Cameras in court are rare in Minnesota, and Chauvin’s was broadcast live due to high public interest and courtroom space limitations due to COVID-19 restrictions.

WHERE ARE YOU NOW? Kueng and Thao reported to federal prison earlier this month to begin serving their sentences for violating Floyd’s rights. Kueng is serving three years in federal prison in Ohio and Thao is serving three and a half years in a Kentucky facility.

You will be held in Minnesota during the trial. Lane, who is white, is serving his two-and-a-half-year federal sentence at a Colorado facility. At the same time, he is serving a three-year state sentence. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 ½ years on the state murder charge and 21 years for violating Floyd’s federal rights. He is serving those sentences concurrently in a federal prison in Arizona.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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