Three now-former Minneapolis police officers had bail set at up to $1 million at their arraignment Thursday on charges of aiding and abetting a fourth cop in the alleged murder of George Floyd, a black man whose Memorial Day death while in their custody has led to more than a week of protests nationwide over police brutality.
But with certain conditions, the three men could be released on bail of $750,000 apiece, Judge Paul Scoggin said, before ordering them to next appear in court on June 29.
“I’m hard-pressed to come up with any comparisons in this case,” Scoggin said, as he agreed with the recommendation by Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank that unconditional bail of $1 million apiece, and $750,000 bail apiece with conditions, was warranted.
Those bail conditions include not working in any law enforcement capacity, surrendering any firearms, voiding their firearm permits, having no contact with Floyd’s family and agreeing to waive extradition should they leave the state of Minnesota.
The hearing in Hennepin County District Court came a day after Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison charged the men:, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, Thomas Lane, 37, and 34-year-old Tou Thao, with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The trio had assisted another Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, in arresting the 46-year-old Floyd on May 25 on suspicion of making a purchase with a counterfeit $20 bill.
Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, during which Floyd said repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.”
None of the three entered pleas to the charges after they were brought into Scoggin’s courtroom to sit behind frosted glass facing the judge, out of view of others present in the room.
Frank argued for the high bail amounts by citing widespread public knowledge of the case, and the risk that the defendants would flee to avoid the charges, which could result in long prison sentences if they are convicted. The murder-related charge carries a 40-year maximum sentence.
Lawyers for each of the men had asked for much-lower bail amounts.
At the same time as the hearing, a memorial for Floyd, one of several planned, was being held in downtown Minneapolis.