Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have all been charged with second-degree murder, according to a tweet from Star Tribune reporter Ryan Faircloth. The officers are being charged in connection with the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody after the Minneapolis Police Department described him as suffering “medical distress.” The arrest was captured in a viral and very disturbing video that showed Floyd lying prone and handcuffed on the ground as a police officer kneeled on his neck for more than seven minutes.
Lane and Kueng were identified as two of the four Minneapolis police officers who were fired in connection with the George Floyd arrest, according to the Minneapolis Police Department. The previously identified officers in the video were Derek Chauvin, who continued kneeling on Floyd’s neck even after Floyd appeared to become unresponsive, and Tou Thao, who was seen in the video interacting with bystanders as they pleaded with officers to intervene because Floyd couldn’t breathe.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced that he had completed his initial review of the evidence and was going to make an announcement Wednesday afternoon, according to CNN.
Chauvin was the first to be arrested when he was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, according to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. Faircloth reporter via Twitter that those charges have been upgraded to second-degree murder charges.
When asked about the other three officers at the scene of Floyd’s death, Freeman said, “We felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator. This case has moved with extraordinary speed.” He called Chauvin’s action “this criminal action.” As evidence, Freeman said he has had discussions with an expert and has a preliminary report from the medical examiner, body camera video, and witness statements. The other three officers are “under investigation. I anticipate charges,” he had said.
According to an interview that Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Floyd’s family, gave to the “Today” show on June 2, he said that he believed the other three officers would be charged. Here is what Crump reportedly said:
We heard that they expect to charge those officers … And now with the autopsy, the independent autopsy from the family that pays particular attention to the two knees at the back compressing his lungs, which is equally important as the neck compression cutting off the flow of air … they will be charged, we understand. That is what the families are hearing from the authorities.
Crump’s statements came after the release of the independent autopsy results and the criminal complaint against Chauvin, which you can read here. There has also been the emergence of more camera angles which appear to show Lane and Keung holding Floyd down, as the criminal complaint says they did.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Criminal Complaint Says Officers Lane & Kueng Were the First to Arrive at the Scene
The criminal complaint says that a person called 911 on May 25, 2020, and reported that a man “bought merchandise from Cup Foods…with a counterfeit $20 bill.”
Officers Thomas Lane and J.A. Kueng arrived at 8:08 p.m. They learned from store personnel that the man “who passed the counterfeit $20 was parked in a car around the corner from the store on 38th Street.”
The officers’ body-worn cameras show that the officers approached the car, with Lake on the driver’s side and Kueng on the passenger side. Three people were in the car. George Floyd was in the driver’s scene and an adult male and female were also in the vehicle, the complaint says.
The complaint further alleges:
As Officer Lane began speaking with Floyd, “he pulled his gun out and pointed it at Mr. Floyd’s open window and directed Mr. Floyd to show his hands.” Floyd put his hands on the steering wheel, so Lane put his gun back in its holster. (The body cam videos have not yet been released publicly.)
When Kueng was speaking with the front seat passenger, Lane ordered Floyd out of the car, put his hands on Floyd, and pulled him out of the car, handcuffing him. “Mr. Floyd actively resisted being handcuffed,” the complaint alleges.
Once handcuffed, Floyd “became compliant” and walked with Lane to the sidewalk, sitting on the ground at Lane’s direction. There was a conversation for under two minutes. Lang asked Floyd for his name and identification and whether he was on anything and explained he was arrested Floyd for passing counterfeit currency, the complaint stated.
Kueng and Lane stood Floyd up and attempted to walk him to their squad car at 8:14 p.m. Floyd “stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told the officers he was claustrophobic.”
That’s when Chauvin and Officer Tou Thao arrived in a separate squad car.
“The officers made several attempts to get Mr. Floyd in the backseat of squad 320 from the driver’s side. Mr. Floyd did not voluntarily get in the car and struggled with the officers by intentionally falling down, saying he was not going in the car, and refusing to stand still,” the complaint alleges. “Mr. Floyd is over six feet tall and weighs more than 200 pounds.”
While standing outside the car, Floyd began “saying and repeatedly that he could not breathe.” Chauvin went to the passenger side and “tried to get Mr. Floyd into the car from that side and Lane and Kueng assisted,” according to the complaint.
Chauvin “pulled Mr. Floyd out of the passenger side of the squad car at 8:19:38 p.m. and Mr. Floyd went to the ground face down and still handcuffed,” said the complaint.
It alleged that Kueng held Floyd’s back and Lane held his legs. Chauvin placed his left knee in the area of Floyd’s head and neck. Floyd said, “I can’t breathe” multiple times and repeatedly said, “Mama.”
“The defendant and the other two officers stayed in their positions,” according to the complaint.
The officers said, “You are talking fine,” to Floyd. Lane asked, “should we roll him on his side?” Chauvin allegedly responded, “No, staying put where we got him.”
Lane said, “I am worried about excited delirium or whatever.” Chauvin said, “That’s why we have him on his stomach,” according to the complaint, which added that “none of the three officers moved from their positions.”
The body cam video shows that Floyd continued to move and breathe but stopped moving at 8:24:24.
At 8:25:31, the video appears to show Floyd ceasing to breathe or speak. Lane said, “I want to roll him on his side.” Kueng checked Floyd’s right wrist for a pulse and said, “I couldn’t find one.” None of the officers moved from their positions.
At 8:27:24, Chauvin removed his knee from Floyd’s neck. An ambulance arrived and Floyd was placed on a gurney. Floyd was pronounced dead at Hennepin County Medical Center.
The Criminal Complaint Against Chauvin Said A Combination Of Floyd’s Health And Police Restraints Contributed To His Death
The complaint says that Floyd’s autopsy revealed “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.” Chauvin “had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total. Two minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Mr. Floyd was non-responsive.
Police are trained that this type of restraint with a prone position is inherently dangerous,” the complaint says. It also says that Chauvin disregarded another officer, Thomas Lane, who asked, “should we roll him on his side?” Chauvin allegedly responded, “No, staying put where we got him,” the complaint says.
You can read an extensive interview that Heavy conducted with a use-of-force expert here. In that interview, he said that keeping Floyd in a prone position was the most dangerous aspect he saw in the viral video and said that law enforcement has known about those dangers for decades.
All Four Officers Involved Have Been Fired
A police cadet by the name of Thomas Lane is shown as joining the police department in March of 2019, according to the city of Minneapolis’ records.
Heavy was unable to find Kueng on the City of Minneapolis or Minneapolis Police websites. Heavy has requested disciplinary records and the years of service for both Lane and Kueng as well as any commendations the two have received.
The other two officers in the video — Chauvin and Thao — have also been fired. Chauvin was involved in three officer-involved shootings before this incident and Thao received multiple complaints and was accused of using excessive force in a prior incident.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey Said He Wants Chauvin Charged
Mayor Jacob Frey announced Tuesday on Twitter that all four officers were fired, calling that decision “the right call.”
Four responding MPD officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been terminated.
This is the right call.
— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) May 26, 2020
Frey also called for Chauvin to face charges Wednesday, saying “I can’t see coming to a different answer there and I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to say that,” local TV station KARE-11 reported. He said at a Tuesday press conference:
We watched for five, whole excruciating minutes as a white officer firmly pressed his knee into the neck of an unarmed, handcuffed black man. I saw no threat, I saw nothing that would signal that this kind of force was necessary. By the way, that particular technique that was used is not authorized by the MPD, it is not something officers are trained on and should not be used period … We are not talking about a split-second decision that was made incorrectly; there are somewhere around 300 seconds in those five minutes, every one of which the officer could have turned back, every second of which, he could have removed his knee from George Floyd’s neck.
The FBI is investigating the case, according to the Minneapolis Police Department.