ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A federal prosecutor says three Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights sat by and “chose to do nothing” as Floyd pleaded for air and then went silent.
Prosecutor Manda Sertich singled out each former officer — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane — as closing arguments in their trial began Tuesday. The three are charged with depriving Floyd of his right to medical care as Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes in May 2020. Lane held the 46-year-old Black man’s feet, Kueng knelt on his back and Thao held back bystanders.
Kueng and Thao are also charged with failing to intervene to stop Chauvin.
Timeline: George Floyd's Death, Protests, Riots, Arrests, and Chauvin Trial
It was late afternoon on Memorial Day, 2020 and many Minnesotans had observed the normally active weekend hunkered down because of the growing pandemic.
George Floyd drove to a grocery store in Minneapolis and bought some cigarettes. He was accused by employees of making the purchase with a counterfeit $20 bill and police were called. Floyd was still there in his vehicle when two officers arrived. About 10 minutes later, Chauvin and another officer showed up and the situation began to escalate. Chauvin began kneeling on Floyd's neck as he was facedown on the street. Despite repeated pleas from Floyd and a growing crowd of bystanders to remove his knee, Chauvin continued as if frozen in position with no facial expression.
After more than 8 minutes, Chauvin finally stood up and Floyd had become unresponsive. An ambulance was called and a short while later, it was reported Floyd was dead.
A video of the incident slowly spread on social media around the state, the country and the world. Viewers literally watched a man slowly die, repeating "I can't breathe."
The now historic response began the following day.