Hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters demand justice for George Floyd and other black Americans who have died following police violence

Former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.
Former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office

At a bail hearing Thursday held in a heavily fortified court building protected by the National Guard across the street from police headquarters, lawyers for Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng attacked the strength of the government’s case and argued they should be released on bail.

The former officers appeared in orange jail uniforms and face masks with a small number of their families allowed into the socially-distanced courtroom for hearings that averaged about 10 minutes each. 

“This is a very serious matter involving a very tragic death and these are very serious charges,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank said.

In response to the government’s request for a high bail amount, lawyers for the defendants argued for a lesser amount due to their clients’ ties to the community and cooperation so far with investigators.  

“I am hard pressed to come up with any comparisons” to other cases, the judge said when ruling on the first case.

He granted the government’s request, setting bail in all three cases at $ 1 million or $ 750,000 with conditions that include not working in security or law enforcement, surrendering guns and any gun permits, and not having contact with Floyd’s family. 

Details from court: One defense strategy on display at this bail hearing was pointing to Chauvin’s longtime status on the force and noting that he out ranked the others. 

Kueng’s defense attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said that it was his client’s third shift as a full-fledged police officer and Chauvin was his training officer.

“I’m asking the court to set bail on the individual” not the institution of the police department that has “lost its guidance,”  Plunkett argued.

Earl Gray, Lane’s attorney, echoed the sentiment.

“It is not meant as punishment,” Gray said, adding, “bail is not mean to kowtow to the media.”

During the hearing and after, Gray contrasted Lane’s being “on the force for four days” with the seniority of Chauvin.

Gray argued that his client was only holding Floyd’s feet and administered CPR when he was in the back of an ambulance.  

“You’ve got a 20-year cop in the front and my guy is in the back there with four days,” Gray said after court.

“I don’t know what you’re supposed to do as a cop,” Gray added.

All three men are scheduled to next appear in court on June 29 at 9 a.m. 

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