What the jury is weighing in the case of 3 ex-MPD officers

The jury began deliberating Wednesday in the case of the three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s rights.

Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are each charged with seeing Floyd in clear need of medical care and willfully failing to aid him. Thao and Kueng are also charged with failing to stop Derek Chauvin’s unreasonable use of force.

The charges can be hard to understand, so how do the jurors decide if the former officers are guilty or not guilty of each charge?

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For Count 2, which charges Thao and Kueng with failing to stop Chauvin’s force against Floyd, the jury has four main elements to consider:

  • Did each officer deprive Floyd of his right to be free from a police officer’s unreasonable force, as provided by the U.S. Constitution? This includes the fact that officer’s have a duty to intervene if they know unreasonable force is being used. This element alone has a few other parts jurors will have to consider:
    • Was Chauvin’s force against Floyd objectively unreasonable?
    • Did each officer see or know that that unreasonable force was being used against Floyd?
    • Did each officer have a chance to stop that unreasonable force?
    • Did each officer fail to make reasonable attempts to stop that unreasonable force? Those attempts don’t have to be successful attempts to stop the force, just reasonable attempts.
  • Did each officer act willfully — with such purpose or motive to specifically disobey or disregard the law — intentionally deprive Floyd of his rights?
  • Did the officers act under color of law? Both sides have already conceded this point and jurors have been told it’s proven.
  • Was Floyd seriously injured or killed as a result of each officer’s conduct?

If the jury decides all of those elements have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant will be guilty. Otherwise, the defendant is not guilty.

On Count 3, which charges Thao, Kueng and Lane with seeing Floyd in need of medical care and failing to help him, jurors have to consider the following:

  • Did each officer deprive Floyd of his right to be free from an officer’s deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs? This element has a few other parts jurors have to consider:
    • Did Floyd have an objectively serious medical need?
    • Did each officer know Floyd had a serious medical need?
    • Did each officer fail to take reasonable measures to address Floyd’s medical need?
  • Did each officer act willfully — with such purpose or motive to specifically disobey or disregard the law — intentionally deprive Floyd of his rights?
  • Did the officers act under color of law? Both sides have already conceded this point and jurors have been told it’s proven.
  • Was Floyd seriously injured or killed as a result of each officer’s conduct?

If the jury decides all of those elements have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant will be guilty. Otherwise, the defendant is not guilty.

Read KSTP’s full George Floyd coverage

Each decision from the jury has to be unanimous.

With the large amount of evidence and three separate defendants, it may take a good amount of time for the jury to reach a consensus on each charge. Of course, it’s also believable that, given the jurors have been in court for a month, they’ve likely have already made up their minds regarding some of those points and could arrive at a verdict relatively quickly.

University of St. Thomas law professor and former federal prosecutor Mark Osler told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he expects it’ll take jurors some time to go over everything.

“The fact that there are multiple charges and defendants means it’s more complicated for the jury to talk about … the fact that they’ve been out the amount of time they have been so far, I wouldn’t make too much of that — there’s a lot to discuss and sort out,” Osler said.

Stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS for the latest updates and developments in the trial.