The lawyer defending one of the three policeman accused of sharing responsibility for the death of George Floyd has said his client was “trained to follow orders”.
Earl Gray told Good Morning Britain that Thomas Lane, who has been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, was on his fourth day in the job.
Lane can be seen holding down Mr Floyd’s feet in video footage because he had “resisted being handcuffed”, his lawyer said.
He spoke after Mr Floyd’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, called for a first-degree murder charge, rather than the second degree.
Mr Gray said: “Thomas Lane was on his fourth day of being a police officer... Chauvin [the officer who knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck] had 20 years…
“My client said twice, ‘shall we roll him over?' My client was down by George Floyd’s feet… he was holding his feet because George Floyd had resisted being handcuffed and had resisted going into the back of the squad car.”
He added that “there is no race issue here”, pointing out two of the four officers involved are black and Asian respectively.
“A police officer is trained to follow orders. He was following his belief that they were doing right, he was not aiding and abetting crime,” he said.
“While he was resisting getting into the squad car, he also said then, ‘I can’t breathe’, he said he had claustrophobia…
“My client did nothing wrong, if you want to know the truth. My client went into the ambulance and tried to revive this guy. My client had no intent to murder this guy.”
Mr Crump said his client was “tortured to death” and that those accused of being responsible should face harsher charges.
“When you look at the facts of this case now that we have the police body-cam audio, you hear one of the police officers say, ‘He doesn’t have a pulse, maybe we should turn him over on his side?’
“Well, officer Derek Chauvin says, ‘no, we are going to keep him in this position’ and continues to keep his knee on his neck for not one minute, not two minutes, not three minutes, not four minutes, not five minutes, not six minutes, not seven minutes, not eight minutes.
“But almost nine minutes, while George Floyd begged for breath, he begged for air.
“They refused to offer him any humanity. That’s why we believe it should be first degree murder because he was tortured to death.”
Protests have been held worldwide in response to his shocking death, with the image of a white police officer kneeling on an unarmed black man’s neck sparking outrage.
On the global reaction, Mr Crump said: “I think George Floyd’s tragic killing is becoming one of those news stories that is going to become historic, especially with the advent of the internet just exploding now.
“When you have mass protests in London and Paris and Berlin and Australia about this black man in America who was killed by police, it sends a message the world is saying enough is enough, no more racism… we want equal justice under the law.”