Asked how it’s possible that his client “stood by and watched” as Floyd struggled to breathe as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the man’s neck, attorney Earl Gray disputed the characterization.
“He did not stand by and watch. He was holding the legs because the guy was resisting at first. Now, when he’s holding the legs, he says to Chauvin, well should we roll him over because he says he can’t breathe. Chauvin says no,” Gray said in an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show.
Gray is representing Thomas Kiernan Lane, who was charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder.
Floyd, accused of forgery, was arrested by the officers in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. Derek Chauvin, one of the officers, knelt on his neck as Lane and J. Alexander Kueng restrained the man’s lower body as Floyd complained he couldn’t breathe.
Floyd eventually died from being deprived of oxygen, an autopsy commissioned by his family concluded. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office found he experienced cardiopulmonary arrest, or a heart attack, while being restrained.
Both autopsies said the manner of death was homicide.
Gray said Lane, 37, was working his fourth day as a police officer, comparing a police department to being in the military.
“A police officer is trained to follow orders. And he was following his belief that they were doing right,” Gray said during an appearance on “Good Morning Britain.”
“My client did nothing wrong,” he added. “My client went into the ambulance and tried to revive the guy.”
Floyd initially resisted arrest and claimed even when he wasn’t on the ground that he couldn’t breathe, the lawyer said.
Lane made his first court appearance on June 5 along with Keung and Tou Thao, another officer who was standing nearby. All three were fired, along with Chauvin, the day after video footage emerged of the Memorial Day death.
If convicted of the aiding and abetting charge, the officers face up to 40 years in prison. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder.
Keung was also a rookie, with just days on the job, according to his attorney.
Gray made a similar argument in court, saying Lane held Floyd’s feet so the man couldn’t kick and asked Chauvin twice if they should roll Floyd over. Lane, he noted, performed CPR in the ambulance.
“What was my client supposed to do but follow what his training officer said? Is that aiding and abetting a crime?” Gray asked.
According to personnel records (pdf), Lane started training as a police cadet last year before recently becoming a full-time officer.
Lane worked at least 10 jobs between 2000 and 2017, according to a resume released by the Minneapolis Police Department, including a server, a security guard, and a telemarketer.
Just before becoming an officer, he spent time as a juvenile correctional officer and an assistant probation officer.
Court records show Lane was charged with a variety of crimes, mostly traffic offenses, between 2001 and 2018.
Two incidents stand apart: Lane in 2001 while 18 years old was charged with unlawful assembly, disobeying police, disorderly conduct, and criminal damage. He was convicted of criminal damage to property and obstructing the legal process.
And in 2007, Lane held a noisy party, according to court records. He was convicted.