It is also the first time that any of them has spoken out publicly about the events of May 2020.
ST. PAUL (Minn.) -- Tuesday's testimony by a former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd’s murder showed that he relied on fellow officers to take care of Floyd's medical needs as he controlled the onlookers while police attempted to arrest him.
Tou Thao is one three officers who were charged by federal court for violating Floyd’s constitutional rights. Officer Derek Chauvin put his knee in Floyd's neck for 9 minutes while the 46-year old man was being handcuffed and facedown on the streets.
Thao held back bystanders while J. Alexander Kueng knelt down on Floyd's back, and Thomas Lane held his legs. Lane and Kueng also intend to testify.
Thao stated that Floyd was struggling to get attention when he and Chauvin arrived. He claimed that he was a "human traffic cone" who acted as a barrier to traffic to keep it away from other officers.
Thao claimed that he heard people becoming more concerned about Floyd's health and calling for officers to check his pulse. He said that his role was to control the crowd; there were 15 other people watching.
Robert Paule, Thao's lawyer, asked Thao if he had seen any officers perform CPR on Floyd. He stated that he didn't and assumed that Floyd was breathing.
Thao later stated that it indicated that Floyd wasn't in cardiac arrest. He also testified that he didn’t know Floyd was seriously ill even though an ambulance brought him away.
Lane, Kueng, and Thao are accused of denying Floyd medical care. Kueng and Thao were also accused of failing intervene to stop Floyd's May 25, 2020, death. This triggered protests around the world and a reexamination on racism and police work. Floyd died as a result of the officers' actions.
Monday was a rest day for the prosecution after they called upon the police officers, doctors and other bystanders to make an argument that Chauvin should have been stopped by officers. They also argued that officers failed to intervene to stop Chauvin.
Defense lawyers are trying to prove that the Minneapolis Police Department did not provide adequate training and required cadets obey their superiors. Chauvin was convicted last year of state murder and manslaughter. He was the most senior officer on the scene.
Thao stated that he was taught to use neck restraints sometimes to handcuff people. Under cross-examination from LeeAnn Bell, Thao said that using a knee for control is not the same as using it to hold someone in handcuffs -- and that neck restraints should be used only once someone is in control.
Thao was asked if Chauvin was using a neck restraint to train his neck. Thao said, "I don’t believe so."
After receiving a 911 call about Floyd's use of a counterfeit $20 bill in a corner shop, police attempted to arrest him.
Thao stated that Floyd was clearly under the influence of drug and alcohol as he tried to get him into a car.
Thao said that Floyd had spoken to him, but that he couldn't see anything from his position that could have affected Floyd's ability to breathe. He said that he heard someone saying they couldn't breath on multiple occasions but was not sure if they were being truthful.
He later agreed with the prosecutor, however, that officers cannot ignore such pleas, even if someone lies.
Lane, who's white, Kueng, who's black, and Thao (who is Hmong American) will face separate state trials in June. They are accused of aiding and abiding murder and manslaughter.
Chauvin, who was white, pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense in December.