Friend of George Floyd Who Witnessed His Death to Plead the Fifth in Trial of Ex-Minneapolis Police Officers


Morries Lester Hall, a friend of George Floyd’s who was with him on the day of his death while in the custody of Minneapolis Police officers, has invoked his Fifth Amendment right and refused to provide testimony during the upcoming trial of former officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao.

Hall filed the motion Tuesday through his public defender Adrienne Cousins, who wrote that Hall intends to invoke the Fifth if called upon to testify and consequently asked the court to “quash the subpoena,” according to StarTribune.

Cousins told the court, “At this point in time Mr. Hall has no immunity. He has been provided no immunity, no protection for his testimony whatsoever. And because of that Mr. Hall is invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in several key areas of questioning that we believe he would face were he to be called to testify.”

She explained, “Mr. Hall’s testimony in these matters would specifically put him in the position of being in very close proximity to Mr. Floyd. There’s an allegation here that Mr. Floyd ingested a controlled substance as police were removing him from the car. A car by the way that has been searched twice and to my understanding drugs have been found in that car, twice.”

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“This leaves Mr. Hall potentially incriminating himself into a future prosecution for third degree murder, and specifically that’s 609.195 subdivision b, and that statute as the court is well aware covers third degree murder liability for someone who is involved in drug activity that eventually leads in an overdose,” Cousins added.

The details of Hall’s decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment have added credibility to the theory that an overdose may have contributed to Floyd’s death, but his attorney’s comments are not testimony and cannot be considered by the court.

In the prior trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of Floyd’s murder, Hall also invoked the Fifth Amendment.

Do you think Kueng and Thao are going to be convicted?

Kueng and Thao are up against charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after rejecting a plea deal that would have allowed them to avoid a trial and added an additional three years of prison time to the sentences they already received following their federal trial for violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Thao received three and a half years, while Kueng was sentenced to three.

In both prior cases, against Chauvin and against Kueng and Thao, prosecutors hinged their cases on testimony from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s officer who ruled Floyd’s death as due to cardiac arrest and a Denver toxicology expert who ruled he died of asphyxia from airway restriction by Chauvin.

Barring contradictory expert testimony, the defense of the two officers would seem to similarly depend upon proving Floyd died due to the presence of drugs in his body.

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Former Officer Thomas Lane, who was also present that day, was convicted of civil rights violations alongside Kueng and Thao, but chose to take the plea deal the other two officers refused.

At the federal trial, all three officers testified against Chauvin, claiming as the senior officer at the scene he was responsible, KSTP-TV reported. Kueng testified that Chauvin “was my senior officer, and I trusted his advice.” Thao testified, “I would trust a 19-year veteran to figure it out.”

According to KSTP-TV, Kueng and Thao are set to stand trial beginning Oct. 24.

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