Rookie George Floyd Officers, Facing Decades in Prison, Blame Derek Chauvin for Ignoring Their Pleas

Attorneys for the two rookie police officers who were arrested and charged in the death of George Floyd blamed Derek Chauvin for ignoring their pleas.

"What is my client supposed to do but follow what the [senior] officer says? The strength of this case, your honor, in my opinion is extremely weak," Earl Gray, the attorney for ex-police officer Thomas Lane, stated in court, according to a report by the Star Tribune.

"At all times [J. Alexander Kueng] and Mr. Lane turned their attention to that 19-year veteran. [Kueng] was trying — they were trying to communicate that this situation needs to change direction," Thomas Plunkett, the attorney representing Keung, stated in court.

Lane and Kueng were both rookie police officers with the Minneapolis Police Department. The men were arrested Wednesday, along with ex-police officer Tou Thao, and charged with aiding and abetting murder by state attorney general Keith Ellison. The attorney general also upgraded charges against Chauvin to second-degree murder after he was originally charged with third-degree murder upon his arrest May 29.

Floyd died May 25 after the four officers responded to a 911 call about a $20 counterfeit bill that Floyd allegedly used at a local supermarket. Official documents show that Lane and Keung were the first to arrive on the scene and handcuffed Floyd.

Prosecutors say that Floyd fell to the ground after telling the officers that he did not want to get into the police car because he was claustrophobic, according to a report by The New York Times. Chauvin arrived following these events and video recording shows that he knelt on the back of Floyd's neck, though he was lying face down on the ground and handcuffed. Floyd could be heard saying that he could not breathe before becoming unresponsive. A fire department report states that a pulse could not be detected on Floyd before he was loaded into an ambulance that took him to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Gray stated in court that Lane told Chauvin to turn Floyd over twice, but that the senior officer refused. The day Floyd died was Lane's fourth day as a full-time police officer, and Kueng's third day, their lawyers said. Both joined the Minneapolis Police Department in February 2019 and graduated from the police academy in December.

According to the Associated Press, the police department requires officers to serve one year of probation and train with senior officers before being fully qualified. It is unclear why the two rookie officers responded together to the call about Floyd. Newsweek has reached out to the Minneapolis Police Department for clarification and will update with any information received.

"It would be unreasonable for [Lane] to go up and drag Chauvin off the deceased...You've got a 20-year cop in the front and my guy's back there with four days and he says, 'Should we roll him over?' and [Chauvin] says, 'No, we'll wait for the ambulance' twice. ... I don't know what you're supposed to do as a cop," Gray said.

All three men are being held on $750,000 bail with conditions, or $1 million bail with conditions. Newsweek to the attorneys for Gray, Kueng, and Chauvin, but they did not respond back in time for publication.

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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JUNE 03: People visit a memorial at the site where George Floyd was killed on June 3, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) Scott Olson/Getty