Lawyer For Cop Charged In George Floyd Killing Says Police Were Just ‘Doing Their Jobs’

by : Emily Brown on : 22 Aug 2020 09:49
Lawyer For Cop Charged In George Floyd Killing Plans To Show Police Just 'Doing Their Jobs'Hennepin County Sheriff's Office/Offices Of Ben Crump Law

The lawyer for Thomas Lane, one of the officers charged with George Floyd’s death, plans to use his defence argument to prove the police were ‘just doing their jobs’. 

Lane has been charged with aiding and abetting murder as he held Floyd’s legs and failed to stop his co-worker, Derek Chauvin, as he knelt on Floyd’s neck during his fatal arrest in May.


Former Minneapolis officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao face the same charges as Lane, while Chauvin has been charged with murder.

Police officer kneeling on man's neck during arrestDarnella Frazier/Facebook

Footage shared online seemed to make clear that Floyd lost his life because he was starved of oxygen, and two autopsies concluded the death was a homicide, but Lane’s lawyer Earl Gray plans to argue that Floyd actually killed himself.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the lawyer laid out what he said would be a central argument for the defense, saying: ‘None of these guys – even Chauvin – actually killed him. He killed himself.’


In spite of the autopsy results, Gray plans to help his client by saying Floyd died from a combination of an overdose of the powerful opioid fentanyl, and an underlying heart condition.

He added:

We are going to show that my client and the other cops were doing their jobs.

George Floyd Protests Prosecute the PolicePA Images

Gray plans to base his argument on toxicology and autopsy reports, as well as recently released bodycam footage from the arrest.

In a memorandum filed in court on Monday, August 17, Gray claimed Floyd swallowed a ‘lethal dose’ of fentanyl as he was resisting arrest.

The filing says:

All he had to do is sit in the police car, like every other defendant who is initially arrested. While attempting to avoid his arrest, all by himself, Mr Floyd overdosed on Fentanyl.

Given his intoxication level, breathing would have been difficult at best. Mr Floyd’s intentional failure to obey commands, coupled with his overdosing, contributed to his own death.

Protesters taking a knee George FloydPA Images

Police bodycam footage reportedly shows Floyd telling officers ‘I can’t breathe’ at least six times before he was pinned to the ground by Chauvin.

Philip Stinson, a Bowling Green State University criminologist and former cop who studies police misconduct, told The LA Times the defense is not as far-fetched as it may seem.

He commented:


This is not a slam dunk for the prosecution and not an easy case, especially for the higher-degree homicide charges.

If this case goes to trial and an officer testifies on his own behalf, it is possible there is reasonable doubt there for jurors.

Thomas LaneHennepin County Sheriff's Office

During Floyd’s arrest, police asked whether he was ‘on something’, to which he responded to say he’d been ‘hooping’, or taking drugs.

Carl Hart, a Columbia University neuroscientist, said the human response to psychoactive drugs is too complex to draw conclusions solely based on fentanyl concentrations, which fluctuate rapidly and can increase after death as the drug breaks down in the body.

Hart commented:

If the officer didn’t put his knee on George Floyd’s neck, he would most likely be alive today.

George Floyd Death Protests - NYCPA Images

When it comes to the trial, the defense does not have to prove that Chauvin didn’t kill Floyd, it just has to create reasonable doubt by persuading jurors that there are other plausible explanations for his death.

Gray is expected to argue his case for dismissing the charges against Lane during a court hearing scheduled for September 11.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Black Lives Matter, Derek Chauvin, George Floyd


The Los Angeles Times
  1. The Los Angeles Times

    Attorney for Minneapolis police officer says he’ll argue George Floyd died of an overdose and a heart condition