MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The attorney of one of the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd is asking the court to dismiss the charges against his client.
Thomas Lane, 37, is charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s May 25 death.
Lane is one of four officers charged in the case. J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are also facing two charges each of aiding and abetting while Derek Chauvin, the officer seen on bystander video kneeling on Floyd's neck as he struggled to breathe, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss the charges against Lane, arguing there is not enough evidence to establish probable cause the former rookie officer committed a crime. He submitted the Minneapolis Police Department’s own manuals as evidence Lane did not commit a crime in the death of Floyd and consequently, should have his charges tossed.
Gray has made the case for dismissal both inside and out of a courtroom for weeks now. The motions are called "Florence" motions, Gray says, and they are "extremely rare." He estimates they are filed in one out of every 400 or 500 cases.
Experts say the motions are risky said Joe Friedburg, a criminal defense attorney, because it puts the onus on the defense to prove what happened and leaves no surprises for the trial. Gray will have to build a strong case, but it will come down to a Hennepin County Judge deciding to either throw the case out or move forward and let a jury decide Lane's fate.
Friedburg said the fact that judges are elected in Minnesota is a factor in this case, but that Judge Cahill is an "excellent judge" and will "call it the way he sees it."
"Aiding and abetting you got to have a criminal intent,” Gray said on June 5. “You couple that with the fact that officers have a right to use reasonable force, there's no way this is aiding and abetting."
His recent motion includes photographs from the interior of George Floyd’s vehicle documenting apparent counterfeit bills as well as transcripts from police body-worn cameras at the scene.
The defense contends it shows an erratic, and uncooperative Floyd struggling with officers who, at first, try to get him in the back of a squad car.
According to the documents, Floyd was already telling officers he was struggling to breathe and is claustrophobic and would rather go to ground.
Gray writes, “based on Floyd’s actions up to this point, the officers had no idea what he would do next—hurt himself, hurt the officers, flee, or anything else, but he was not cooperating.”
The transcripts also capture officers discussing the use of a “maximum restraint technique” on Floyd, while waiting for an ambulance at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue.
Gray contends that at this point Lane, who was working just his fourth official shift as an MPD officer, deferred to the lead of the much more senior Derek Chauvin while trying to control Floyd’s legs.
Lane apparently asked twice if they should roll Floyd onto his side and claims from his vantage point that he could not directly observe Chauvin’s position to know whether he was causing harm as he kept a knee to the back of Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.