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Ex-policeman charged in George Floyd's death testifies in defence

Ex-policeman charged in George Floyds death testifies in defence

Saint Paul: The former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd's killing testified Tuesday that he assumed his fellow officers were attending to Floyd's medical needs while he focused on keeping back bystanders.

Tou Thao is one of three former officers charged in federal court with violating Floyd's constitutional rights when Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for 9 1/2 minutes as the 46-year-old man was handcuffed, facedown on the street.

Thao held back bystanders, while J. Alexander Kueng knelt on Floyd's back and Thomas Lane held his legs. Kueng and Lane also plan to testify.

Floyd's death was filmed by a bystander and sparked months of protests in the United States against racial injustice and police brutality.

Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were the three other officers on the scene as Floyd was being taken into custody for allegedly using a fake $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes.

While Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck, Kueng was on his back and Lane held his legs.

Thao kept bystanders, who were telling Chauvin to get off the visibly distressed Floyd, from getting any closer to the scene.

"I was full-time crowd control," Thao said, calling himself a "human traffic cone."

Thao said he told the crowd that the officers "were not trying to hurt" Floyd but were "just trying to restrain him."

He said he believed Floyd was under the influence of drugs but he "had no idea" of the seriousness of his condition until firefighters turned up at the scene.

"I was assuming they were taking care of him," he said, in a reference to the other officers there.

Thao and Kueng are also accused of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin's use of "unreasonable force" against Floyd.

Lane does not face the second charge. Video of the arrest shows that on two occasions, Lane suggested Floyd be rolled over on his side.

Twelve jurors and six alternates are hearing the case against the three officers.

Thao, Kueng and Lane are to face Minnesota state charges in connection with Floyd's death in a trial that is scheduled to begin on June 13.

All three men have pleaded not guilty.

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