ST. PAUL, Minn. — Jurors started deliberating Wednesday in the federal trial of three fired Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights.
J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are charged with depriving Floyd of his right to medical care when fellow officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old Black man pleaded for air before going silent.
Kueng and Thao are also charged with failing to intervene to stop Chauvin in the May 25, 2020, killing.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys spent a full day Tuesday in closing arguments that recapped a month of testimony. Prosecutors said the three officers “chose to do nothing” as Chauvin, squeezed the life out of Floyd. Defense attorneys countered that the officers were too inexperienced, were n’t trained properly and did not willfully violate Floyd’s rights.
US District Judge Paul Magnuson explained the counts Wednesday, telling jurors what they must consider. For example, he defined reasonable force and said if the jury finds that Chauvin used unreasonable force — and that Thao and Kueng had a realistic opportunity to intervene to stop it — then they must find that they deprived Floyd of his right to be free from unreasonable force under the Constitution.
He also reminded jurors that they need to consider the evidence against each man separately and return a separate verdict for each count.
Prosecutors sought to show during the monthlong trial that the officers violated their training, including when they failed to roll Floyd onto his side or give him CPR. Prosecutors have argued that Floyd’s condition was so serious that even bystanders without basic medical training could see he needed help.
But the defense said the Minneapolis Police Department’s training was inadequate and that the officers deferred to Chauvin as the senior officer at the scene.
Chauvin pleaded guilty in the federal case in December, months after he was convicted of state murder and manslaughter charges.
Thao watched bystanders and traffic as the other officers held down Floyd. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back from him and Lane held his legs. All three officers testified.
Lane, who is white, Kueng, who is Black, and Thao, who is Hmong American, also faced a separate trial in June on state charges alleging that they aided and abetted murder and manslaughter.
Federal civil rights violations that result in death are punishable by up to life in prison or even death, but those sentences are extremely rare, and federal sentencing guidelines suggest the officers would get much less if convicted.
FEDERAL TRIAL HEADS TO CLOSING ARGUMENTS:3 officers accused of violating George Floyd’s civil rights
Who is on the jury?
Twelve jurors began deliberations Wednesday. Eight of them were women and four were men. The court did not release demographic information but the jury appeared to be mostly white.
Two alternates remained before deliberations began. Judge Magnuson put them on call in case they’re needed later. The jury includes seven people from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, as well five of counties in southern Minnesota.
Here is what we know about the 12 jurors:
JUROR 3: A man from Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is located. He’s a project captain at an architectural firm. Married with no children. He has a master’s degree in architecture. He’s a member of the American Home Brewers Association.
JUROR 6: A man who has lived in Hennepin County for 40-some years. He works retail; his wife works in a grocery store. They have five children. He has a degree in teaching French and education. Active in Minnesota Indonesian Society.
JUROR 11: A man who lives in southeastern Minnesota’s Olmsted County. A computer programmer. His wife of him does medical research. Three children, one still in college. I have a bachelor’s degree. Involved in his Methodist church from him.
JUROR 14: A woman who lives in Ramsey County, where St. Paul is located. A public affairs director for a local government. Her husband of her is retired. She has children. One daughter is 11 and is a sixth grader. Active in state’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Graduated from the University of Minnesota.
JOURNEY 16: A woman from Blue Earth County in southern Minnesota. She is retired and previously worked as an accountant for a feed manufacturing company. Her husband de ella is retired from a municipal utility. She has two grown sons. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She is involved with the University of Minnesota master gardener program.
JUROR 30: A woman from Washington County. She does logistics for a large local cooperative; her husband of her does the same thing for the same company. She has three children ranging from 2 to 10 years old. She has a bachelor’s degree and a business minor.
JUROR 41: A man from Ramsey County. He works as a project manager in state government. His wife of him is a university researcher. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology.
JUROR 43: A woman from Anoka County in the northern Minneapolis-St. Paul area. She is a customer relations manager. Ella married 24 years to husband who is truck driver; three adult children. She has some college education.
JUROR 46: A woman from Jackson County in southwestern Minnesota. She home-schools her children from her. Her husband de ella is a computer network administrator and owns his own business. They have five kids ranging from 12 to 20. Active in church and the YMCA swim team.
JUROR 60: A woman from Scott County, near the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. She does product development. Her husband of her is retired. Her children of her are ages 21 and 18. She has a master’s degree.
JUROR 69: A woman from southeastern Minnesota’s Olmsted County. She is a food service worker at a hospital and her boyfriend de ella is in the same job. She has a high school diploma.
JUROR 70: A woman from Nicollet County in southern Minnesota. She is retired. She previously was a chef at a hospital in Indiana. Her spouse de ella died in 2020. She has two children in their 40s. She is on the board for Real Life of St. Peter Cooperative Housing. She also is involved in her church.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism