A pretrial hearing on Friday in the police killing of George Floyd ended with the judge throwing the local prosecutor and his whole team off the case. But it was Floyd’s family and their lawyers who got the last word in of the day after defense attorneys for the fired Minneapolis police officers tried to “blame the dead” for their own allegedly murderous ways.
“Watching our brother die on video was the most painful experience of our lives. But listening to those defending these officers blame him for his own death today felt like a knife in the heart,” Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, said in a statement Friday afternoon. “It shows the degree to which the justice system works to protect those in authority at our expense.”
On Thursday, the lawyer for Thomas Lane, one of the officers involved in the police killing on Memorial Day, cited Floyd’s criminal record for drugs as an apparent justification of his killing.
“Mr. Floyd was, as the Officers had suspected, an addict,” Earl Gray wrote in a motion asking for charges to be dropped against Lane. “He was worse than that.”
Gray continued: “All he had to do is sit in the police car, like every other defendant who is initially arrested,” Gray wrote. “While attempting to avoid his arrest, all by himself, Mr. Floyd overdosed on Fentanyl. Given his intoxication level, breathing would have been difficult at best. Mr. Floyd’s intentional failure to obey commands, coupled with his overdosing, contributed to his own death.”
Ben Crump, one of the attorneys representing Floyd’s family, rejected that defense as a “shameful” attempt at revising history.
“The only overdose that killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force and racism by the Minneapolis Police Department. George was lucid, cooperative, obeyed commands, and had situational awareness when he died. The world witnessed his asphyxiation on video, and now defense counsel is asking us to disbelieve our own eyes. Multiple autopsies determined that he died of asphyxiation because of the officers kneeling on his back and neck. George told officers he couldn’t breathe and pleaded for his life. Instead of checking his condition and rendering assistance, they increased the pressure on his neck,” Crump said in a statement e-mailed to NewsOne Friday afternoon. “It is classic police defense to blame the dead and claim that suspects with any amount of drugs in their system were responsible for their own death. It’s called “blame the dead,” and it flies in the face of what we see with our own eyes on the video. That statement embodies the continued negative narrative used against Black men who die at the hands of the police and are later assassinated a second time when the official story line destroys their character after they are dead.”
In the meantime, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and his staff were “disqualified” from prosecuting the case over what the judge described in part as “sloppy” casework, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Derek Chauvin is the cop who was seen on viral video applying deadly pressure with his knee to Floyd’s neck on the afternoon of Memorial Day in Minneapolis. He is charged with murder and manslaughter. Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng are all charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin.
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