George Floyd news: 911 dispatcher ‘took it upon herself’ to call sergeant because arrest was ‘wrong’

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Jurors have reviewed extensive video footage during a second day of testimony in the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights.

The former officers — Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane — face one count each of failing to provide Mr Floyd with medical aid while Derek Chauvin placed his knee on his neck for more than nine minutes while he was facedown, handcuffed and gasping for air.

Mr Lane – as well as members of the Floyd family – are expected to testify over the course of the trial. On Tuesday, Judge Paul Magnuson barred Mr Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross, who was listed as a witness, from testifying at trial after she gave a press conference on Monday.

Mr Thao and Mr Kueng are also charged with failing to stop Chauvin’s use of force.

The three officers have pleaded not guilty.

Key Points

  • What are the charges?

  • How prosecutors presented opening arguments

  • George Floyd’s girlfriend barred from testifying

  • Floyd family speaks out after opening arguments in officers’ trial

  • At least one former officer is expected to testify

Good morning! Welcome to the Independent’s live blog on the federal trial of three former officers over the George Floyd killing.

04:09 , Arpan Rai

Full encounter between police and George Floyd shown to jury

05:01 , Arpan Rai

The trial of three police officers involved in George Floyd’s death began on Monday where jurors were shown videos of officers approaching and struggling with the man moments before he died.

In the videos, the officers were seen arriving at the spot where J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane arrived first. The men were seen putting Floyd on the ground and he is visibly struggling and says he cannot breathe.

The camera showed Mr Lane holding Floyd’s legs, while Mr Kueng knelt on his back. Shortly after, Floyd falls silent.

Videos shot by bystanders showed people gathering around the scene, shouting at the officers.

The videos for the jurors have been stitched together from body-worn cameras and from bystanders clippings.

Another video by the officers shows EMS arriving as officers put an unresponsive Floyd into an ambulance.

The court entered the recess after the videos were shown to the jury.

Officers chose not to protect George Floyd, says prosecutor

05:43 , Arpan Rai

In her opening statements, prosecutor Samantha Trepel accused the three Minneapolis officers of silently watching George Floyd die and doing nothing to save him.

“For second after second, minute after minute, these three CPR-trained defendants stood or knelt next to Officer Chauvin as he slowly killed George Floyd right in front of them,” Ms Trepel told the court.

She added: “They chose not to protect George Floyd, the man they had handcuffed and placed in their custody”.

“We will ask you to hold these men accountable for choosing to do nothing and watch a man die,” Ms Trepel, who works for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said.

She also told the court the videos showed how one of the officers Mr Thao stood directly next to the accused Derek Chauvin and taunted Floyd for using drugs instead of intervening.

Mr Thao, prosecutor told the bystanders, “This is why you don’t use drugs”.

Thomas Lane: What do we know about the Minneapolis police officer?

06:10 , Arpan Rai

One of the three officers standing in trial include Thomas Lane, who was present at the spot when George Floyd was assaulted and killed.

A member of the Minneapolis Police Department since early 2019, Mr Lane was seen pulling a gun on Floyd within 15 seconds of approaching him in a parked car.

Mr Lane and another officer J Alexander Kueng held Floyd handcuffed inside a police car as they waited for Derek Chauvin to arrive at the scene.

After Floyd was placed face down on the ground, Mr Lane held his legs while Mr Kueng knelt into his back, evidence showed.

The body-mounted video camera showed Mr Lane asking twice whether Mr Floyd should be turned on his side.

He is one of the three officers accused of failing to give medical treatment to Mr Floyd. The other officers face a second count of violating Flyod’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure.

Alex Woodward has the full report here

Who is J Alexander Kueng, the former officer facing federal charges in George Floyd’s death?

07:19 , Arpan Rai

Former officers J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao have been broadly charged with depriving George Floyd of his civil rights while acting under government authority.

This comes nine months after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering the 46-year-old in 2020.

Mr Kueng, who is Black, was present at the spot and is the youngest among all the officers.

He, along with Mr Thao, is accused of failing to stop Chauvin and failing to help Floyd.

Read the full story here

What are the charges against the three officers on federal trial over George Floyd’s death?

08:24 , Eleanor Sly

J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, who were all fired from Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, are standing trial on charges that they violated the Black man’s civil rights during the deadly arrest back on Memorial Day 2020.

All three have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

They were indicted by a federal grand jury on the civil rights charges - which are effectively hate crime charges - together with Chauvin last May.

Rachel Sharp reports:

Charges against the three officers on federal trial over George Floyd’s death

George Floyd officers trial: Defence says Derek Chauvin ‘called all of the shots’ in Black man’s killing

10:29 , Eleanor Sly

A defence attorney for one of the three former police officers charged in connection to George Floyd’s murder has claimed that convicted killer Derek Chauvin “called all of the shots” during the deadly encounter.

Tom Plunkett, the lawyer for J Alexander Kueng, sought to pin all the blame for Mr Floyd’s death on Chauvin as he gave his opening statements in the federal trial on Monday.

Mr Plunkett said that Mr Kueng was only a rookie cop when he was involved in the fatal arrest of the Black man outside a convenience store in Minneapolis back on 25 May 2020.

Rachel Sharp has more:

Three officers ‘watched as George Floyd died a slow and agonising death’, says prosecutor in opening statement

11:13 , Eleanor Sly

Three former police officers “watched as George Floyd died a slow and agonising death” and failed to intervene as Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck “for nine minutes and 29 seconds”, a court in Minnesota heard on Monday.

Prosecutor Samantha Trepel began opening statements on Monday morning in the federal trial of Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng on charges of violating Mr Floyd’s civil rights during his fatal arrest on Memorial Day 2020.

Ms Trepel told jurors that the three officers failed in a “fundamental element of policing” to care for the Black man while he was in their custody and “chose not to act” to stop fellow officer Chauvin murdering him.

Read more here:

Officers ‘watched George Floyd die slow and agonising death’, prosecutor says

Tou Thao: Former Minneapolis police officer faces federal charges in George Floyd’s killing

13:11 , Eleanor Sly

On 21 April, 2021, former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd on Memorial Day in 2020, a death that sparked a wave of international protests against police violence.

A federal jury trial now underway will determine whether the three other now-former officers who were on the scene that day – Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – are guilty of violating Mr Floyd’s constitutional rights for failing to come to his aid. They have pleaded not guilty.

The men were indicted by a federal grand jury along with Chauvin last year; as part of a plea agreement, Chauvin must serve a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Alex Woodward has more:

Tou Thao: Former officer faces federal charges in George Floyd’s killing

Monday’s argument: Prosecutors ask jurors to ‘hold these men accountable for choosing to do nothing’

14:25 , Alex Woodward

Prosecutor Samantha Trepel distilled the federal government’s argument against the three officers accused of failing to provide aid to George Floyd while another officer pinned him down with his knee against his neck for more than nine minutes.

“We will ask that you hold these men accountable for choosing to do nothing,” she said to close her opening argument on Monday.

Defense attorneys have conceded that “the events that occurred that day are indeed a tragedy,” former officer Tou Thao’s attorney Robert Paule said.

But he added: “The fact that something ends tragically does not mean a crime has been committed."

Defense attorney have denied a critical question in the trial – that the men “willfully” deprived Floyd his constitutional rights. Attorneys argued that the men did not receive adequate training, pinning the blame on the department itself, while following “the shots” called by Derek Chauvin, the senior officer on the scene.

At least one former officer will testify

14:45 , Alex Woodward

Former Minneapolis Police Department officer Thomas Lane, charged with failing to provide George Floyd with medical aid while Derek Chauvin held him under his knee, is expected to testify in his own defense at trial, according to his attorney.

Defense attorney Early Gray told the courtroom on Monday that Mr Lane will take the stand.

He called the charges against his client a “perversion of justice.”

Jurors watched video of the deadly encounter. Mr Lane, among the first two officers to find Mr Floyd behind the wheel of a car, is captured shouting “hands on the wheel” at him.

“Please don’t shoot me,” Mr Floyd pleads.

Moments later, as the officers struggle to wrestle him from the driver’s seat and into a squad car, Mr Floyd says he is “scared” and “claustrophobic.”

“I’m not a bad guy, man,” he says.

Mr Lane joined the Minneapolis Police Department in early 2019.

Three generations of men on his mother’s side of the family also served in the department, including his great-great-grandfather Michael Mealey, who was chief from 1911 to 1912, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

He previously served as a corrections officer at Hennepin County’s juvenile jail and as a probation officer with a residential program for juvenile offenders in Ramsey County.

Floyd family speaks out after opening arguments in officers’ trial

15:00 , Alex Woodward

An attorney for the family said defense attorneys for the three officers accused of failing to come to his aid while another officer pinned him down are trying to “deflect blame away from the officers’ own actions.”

Instead, they have pointed to the actions of Floyd and Derek Chauvin, who already has been convicted of murder following a closely watched trial, attorney Jeff Storms told reporters on Monday.

A protester stands outside a federal courthouse in St Paul, Minnesota on 24 January. (REUTERS)
A protester stands outside a federal courthouse in St Paul, Minnesota on 24 January. (REUTERS)

Mr Storms condemned ongoing attempts to “assassinate” Mr Floyd’s character in the wake of his murder.

“I’m getting physically tired of watching individuals like my brother murdered by police,” Mr Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd said. “It’s always their fault. Nobody ever says it’s the other person’s fault.”

Court is shown videos from Floyd’s final moments as trial continues on Tuesday

16:05 , Alex Woodward

Jurors continue to review video footage from officers’ body-worn cameras and bystanders showing George Floyd’s final moments and officers’ response.

The footage, synchronized to show the events leading up to Floyd’s death as they happened, was shown to jurors on Monday afternoon and continues on Tuesday morning as the trial resumes.

Jurors are now seeing footage from J Alexander Kueng’s body camera.

Mr Kueng was one of the first two men to arrive on the scene, along with Thomas Lane. Both men struggled with Mr Floyd as they restrained him before Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao arrived.

Jurors review bodycam footage from Tou Thao

16:51 , Alex Woodward

The jury now is viewing body camera footage from former officer Tou Thao, who arrived on the scene with Derek Chauvin.

His footage shows him keeping bystanders away from the scene, at one point saying “this is why you don’t do drugs” as George Floyd was pinned to the ground by Chauvin.

Judge rules that Floyd’s partner cannot be a witness at trial

17:01 , Alex Woodward

Before evidence was presented on Tuesday, Judge Paul Magnuson issued a ruling prohibiting George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross from taking the stand in the federal trial of the three officers accused of failing to come to his aid.

Ms Ross, who was previously listed as a witness, was excluded because of a press conference she gave on Monday, according to the judge.

Defense cross examines after reviewing video footage

17:41 , Alex Woodward

Tou Thao’s attorney Robert Paule cross examined the FBI forensic analyst on the stand after jurors reviewed several pieces of video stitching together the events surrounding George Floyd’s death, including officers responding to the scene and the crowd reacting to his final moments.

The videos were shown in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial; in this case, the FBI spliced in footage from nearby surveillance cameras as well as bystander footage and video recorded by the officers’ body cameras.

Testimony begins from cashier at convenience store that has become site of Floyd’s death and demonstrations

17:48 , Alex Woodward

Minneapolis corner market Cup Foods was central to protests and memorials in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, who was pinned to the ground just outside the store on 25 May 2020.

A teenage clerk called 911 to report that Mr Floyd allegedly used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.

When officers arrived, he was in a car just outside the store, then was wrestled to a squad car before Derek Chauvin brought him to the ground with his knee on his neck for more than nine minutes.

That clerk, Christopher Martin, is now testifying in the federal trial of the other three officers who were at the scene.

Revisit Christopher Martin’s testimony in Derek Chauvin’s trial

18:03 , Alex Woodward

Christopher Martin, now 20, was a teenage clerk at Cup Foods when he reported to a manager that George Floyd allegedly used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes, which prompted a call to police that eventually led to his death.

Mr Martin said he wasn’t even sure if Mr Floyd knew it was fake, and that he was willing to take $20 out of his paycheck to cover Mr Floyd’s disputed purchase, which he says was store policy.

The Independent’s Josh Marcus covered his testimony in Derek Chauvin’s trial last year:

Cashier describes George Floyd’s arrest: ‘This could’ve been avoided’

Cashier who flagged Floyd’s alleged counterfeit bill says he looked ‘dead’ as crowd called officers to check pulse

18:36 , Alex Woodward

Christopher Martin – the Cup Foods clerk who initially flagged an alleged counterfeit $20 bill that George Floyd used to buy cigarettes – narrated video footage of police officers’ encounter with Mr Floyd as it was presented in the courtroom.

As a crowd gathered around the scene calling for officers to check Mr Floyd’s pulse, Mr Martin said he looked “dead.”

Witness: Floyd was ‘not responsive’ after Derek Chauvin ‘pinned him to the ground’

18:44 , Alex Woodward

Christopher Martin tried to get George Floyd back to the store after he allegedly paid for cigarettes with a fake $20 bill, he testified on Tuesday.

Mr Martin then told his manager, though Mr Martin said he offered to pay for the cigarettes himself, adding that he believed that Mr Floyd may not even have known that the bill was counterfeit.

The manager instructed another employee to call police, according to Mr Martin.

After he returned to work, a crowd gathered outside the store, where Derek Chauvin had “pinned him to the ground.”

‘Like a continued injury’: George Floyd’s girlfriend speaks out as trial underway

20:02 , Alex Woodward

George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross spoke with KARE11-TV in Minneapolis on Monday as a federal trial began for three officers accused of failing to provide aid to Mr Floyd in the moments before he was killed by another officer.

Revisiting her late boyfriend’s murder is “like a continued injury.”

 (AP)
(AP)

“You think maybe you’re starting to heal a little bit, and then another trial comes and you’re just engulfed in it once again,” she said.

Ms Ross, who was listed as a witness in the trial, was barred from testifying after the judge pointed out that she spoke with reporters.

Defense attorney for officer filmed pushing away bystanders begins cross examination of store clerk

20:08 , Alex Woodward

Video from the scene of the lethal police encounter between police and George Floyd captured now-former officer Tou Thao pushing away bystanders.

Christopher Martin, who was a clerk at the nearby Cup Foods store, narrated video footage of police officers’ encounter with Mr Floyd as it was presented in the courtroom.

Mr Thao’s attorney Robert Paule is now questioning Mr Martin.

Man who pleaded with officers to de-escalate scene takes witness stand

20:46 , Alex Woodward

Charles McMillian, who gave emotional testimony during Derek Chauvin’s trial for murder, is next on the witness stand.

Mr McMillian, among the first witnesses at the scene outside Cup Foods, pleaded with officers to keep him out of the squad car as he tried to de-escalate the scene.

“I’ve had interactions with officers myself,” he said at Chauvin’s trial. “I understand once you get in the cuffs you can’t win. You’re done. That’s just the way I look at it.”

Read the report from The Independent’s Josh Marcus and Graeme Massie:

Witness who knew Derek Chauvin breaks down as he watches video of George Floyd arrest

Bystander told George Floyd ‘you can’t win’ as he struggled with police

20:56 , Josh Marcus

Charles McMillian, a bystander who witnessed police’s fatal arrest of George Floyd, is telling jurors how he tried to warn Mr Floyd he was in harm’s way if he tried to struggle with officers.

“You can’t win,” Mr McMillian remembers telling the man.

“I’m not trying to win,” Mr Floyd says in response, according to body camera footage.

Witness who saw George Floyd arrest had friend who was recently killed by police

21:07 , Josh Marcus

A bystander who watched much of the George Floyd arrest unfold says he grew concerned over officers’ rough tactics—pinning Mr Floyd to the ground with knees on his neck and back—because a friend had recently died in a police squad car.

“I didn’t want that to happen to George Floyd,” Charles McMillian told jurors on Tuesday. “I knew something was going to happen to Mr Floyd. He was going to die.”

In video of the May 2020 arrest, Mr McMillian can be heard pleading with officers, “Please let him breathe.”

The judge has asked the jury to disregard Mr McMillian’s comments about his deceased friend.

Court takes recess as witness becomes emotional

21:09 , Josh Marcus

The court has taken a brief recess, following testimony from bystander Charles McMillian, who grew emotional recounting how George Floyd pled for his life as Minneapolis police officers knelt on top of him during an arrest in May 2020.

Court resumes with cross-examination of Charles McMillian

21:33 , Josh Marcus

Court is back in session and now bystander Charles McMillian is being cross-examined by defence attorney Earl Gray.

The judge, Paul Magnuson, has warned both sides he is worried about witnesses who will elicit an emotional response, rather that convey information about what happened during George Floyd’s fatal arrest. The judge said he may limit the amount of video played while witnesses are recounting their experiences as a result.

Defence highlights how officers checked Floyd’s vitals

21:51 , Josh Marcus

Defence attorneys are trying to highlight how officers checked George Floyd’s vital signs multiple times as they knelt on top him during his arrest in 2020.

Lawyer Earl Gray has noted that Alexander Keung checked Mr Floyd’s pulse at his wrist, telling former officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted last year on state murder charges of killing Floyd, that he couldn’t find a pulse.

Fellow officer Thomas Lane, meanwhile, checked Mr Floyd’s pulse at his ankle and eventually loaded his lifeless body into an ambulance.

“So your testimony that you didn’t see these police officers assist George Floyd at all isn’t based on much is it?” asked Mr Gray as he cross-examined bystander Charles McMillian, who admitted he didn’t see officers take these medical steps.

The three former officers on trial—J Alexander Keung, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao—are facing federal civil rights charges of failing to give medical aid to George Floyd and failing to intervene in Derek Chauvin’s use of excessive force.

Up next: Jena Scurry, 911 dispatcher who watched Floyd murder on CCTV

21:56 , Josh Marcus

Next to take the stand is Jena Scurry, the 911 dispatcher who first sent officers to arrest George Floyd on a call about a counterfeit $20 bill.

She watched the arrest play out live on a closed-circuit city surveillance camera feed, and she told a jury last year she felt “something is wrong” as she observed police handle Mr Floyd.

Here’s what we wrote about her testimony last March.

911 dispatcher says instincts told her ‘something is wrong’ during George Floyd arrest

What happened when a Minneapolis police sergeant was called to review the George Floyd arrest?

22:14 , Josh Marcus

Jena Scurry, who is currently on the stand, is a 911 dispatcher who witnessed the George Floyd arrest through a CCTV camera feed.

She was so disturbed by what she saw, a gaggle of officers pressing on top of Mr Floyd, that she called a Minneapolis police sergeant to the scene to review the use of force.

That officer, former sergeant David Pleoger, eventually concluded police could’ve let Mr Floyd up once he stopped resisting. Instead, they stayed on top of him for nearly 9 minutes, including multiple minutes when Mr Floyd appeared lifeless.Here’s what we wrote about Mr Pleoger’s testimony last year.

Police review says Chauvin could have ‘ended restraint’ when Floyd stopped resisting

Officers labelled scene as safe before killing George Floyd: 911 dispatcher

22:33 , Josh Marcus

Officers called in a Code 4 as their arrest of George Floyd progressed, according to the testimony of Jena Scurry, the 911 dispatcher who sent officers to contact Mr Floyd and witnessed the arrest virtually through a CCT V feed.

Code 4, Ms Scurry explained on Tuesday, means officers regarded the scene as safe. Still, they ended up using deadly force on George Floyd, who died as officers knelt on top of him for 9 minutes.

911 dispatcher called sergeant because something was ‘wrong’ with George Floyd arrest

22:57 , Josh Marcus

Jena Scurry, a 911 dispatcher who observed the George Floyd arrest through a CCTV feed, is telling jurors how she began to fear something was going “wrong” with the stop when it appeared the video had frozen.

Then she realised the picture was fine, and officers had in fact been squatting on top of a near-motionless George Floyd.

Eventually, Ms Scurry says she “took it upon herself” to call a sergeant to review the incident.

In a recording of her call played during the Derek Chauvin trial, she was heard saying, “Call me a snitch if you want to,” before describing to the supervising officer how “all of them sat on this man.”

Ambulance arrived at George Floyd arrest scene in minutes, defence says

23:01 , Josh Marcus

Defence attorneys for the three officers on trial have consistently pointed to what they say is a stream of speedy decisions the former Minneapolis policeman made to look after George Floyd’s health.

Lawyer Earl Gray, who represents former MPD officer Thomas Lane, noted that an ambulance arrived to Cup Foods in about 7 minutes after officers radioed in a mouth injury that Mr Floyd had sustained.One of the charges the trio of officers who assisted Derek Chauvin are facing is that they failed to deliver timely medical aid to Mr Floyd.

That’s all for today

23:15 , Josh Marcus

That’s the end of questioning for today. Court will be back in session tomorrow at the federal courthouse in St Paul, Minnesota.

Signing off for the night

23:23 , Josh Marcus

That’s all for today’s rolling coverage of the federal civil rights trial of the officers who arrested George Floyd.

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