Topline Attorney Earl Gray, who is representing former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane, said Thursday in court that it was his client’s fourth shift and J. Alexander Kueng’s third as officers in the field when George Floyd was killed. Gray also said that their training officer was Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.
Lane, Kueng, and Tou Thao, the three now-former officers seen next to Chauvin in the viral video of Floyd’s death, made their first appearances in Hennepin County District Court earlier today, where a judge set bail for the trio accused of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death at $750,000 each.
Chauvin, who Gray identified as the senior officer at the scene, saw his own charges upgraded to second-degree murder on Wednesday.
In court, Gray stressed that it was only Lane’s fourth day on the job and said his client only held Floyd’s feet so he couldn’t kick.
“What was my client supposed to do but follow what his training officer said?” Gray reportedly asked in court. Chauvin was also training Kueng.
A Minneapolis city government representative told Forbes that Lane and Kueng were both promoted from recruits to officers on December 10, and received their first unit assignments to the Third Precinct on March 1.
The two officers, who graduated in the same recruit class, were training and had just been assigned to patrol duty days before Floyd’s death.
George Floyd died May 25 while being forcibly restrained by Lane, Kueng and Chauvin. Footage of the incident shows Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, ignoring Floyd’s plea, “I can’t breathe.” All four officers were fired a day after Floyd’s death. Chauvin faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison under his murder count and 10 years for manslaughter if convicted, and his fellow defendants face the same potential penalties as aiding and abetting second-degree murder equates to a second-degree murder charge under Minnesota law.