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Minnesota Court of Appeals considering additional charge for 3 former officers

The defense argued on Thursday that it isn't possible to charge Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane with aiding and abetting a deranged mind.
Credit: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office
Former Minneapolis police officers (from left to right) J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Court of Appeals held a hearing Thursday on additional charges for three former Minneapolis police officers already charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. 

Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. The hearing Thursday addressed the possibility of the addition of expanding their charges to include aiding and abetting the third-degree murder charge Derek Chauvin was convicted of on April 20, 2021. 

Because Chauvin was found guilty of a third-degree murder charge, prosecutors are trying to add the charge against Thao, Kueng and Lane, who were present on the scene when Floyd died. 

Defense Attorney Deborah Ellis spoke at the hearing on behalf of the three former officers. She noted that on Feb. 11, Judge Peter Cahill denied a motion from the state to amend the complaints against the three to add aiding and abetting third-degree murder. 

Her argument throughout the brief hearing was that it is not possible to aid or abet a "deranged mind," the legal definition included in a third-degree murder charge.

Speaking on behalf of the state, lawyer Neal Katyal argued that the Minnesota Court of Appeals is not legally able to make a ruling on this decision. He said this decision belongs in the hands of district courts, and that those lower courts need to make a ruling first. Katyal said once the district courts make a decision, then it is within the power of the court of appeals to make a ruling based on the lower court decision. 

Judge Matthew Johnson concluded the hearing by saying the court of appeals will debate, and hand down a ruling within the next 90 days. 

The trial for the three former officers is scheduled to begin on March 7, 2022. 

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