Attorney Joe Tamburino of Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. recently wrote an opinion piece on the George Floyd killing case, which was featured in the Star Tribune. In the article, he addressed a pressing question surrounding an acquittal request from former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane: “Will his request for acquittal make it to the United States Supreme Court?” If it does, then how will that affect similar acquittal requests in the future?
Case Headed to SCOTUS?
The state trial for the three officers on the scene will be held on June 13th, 2022. But the three were already tried and convicted in federal court. Specifically, Thomas Lane was convicted for failing to provide medical care to George Floyd while former officer Derek Chauvin used lethal force to restrain him (under the federal Deprivation of Rights law). Now, Lane is asking a higher court to decide if his conviction is justified because it stands alone. His conviction is unlike those given to officers Thao and Kueng, who were found guilty of failing to intervene and stop Chauvin.
As Attorney Tamburino underscores in his opinion piece, there is nothing new about a convicted defendant attempting an appeal, but Lane’s case is significant.Why? Never before has a police officer been indicted for failing to provide medical aid to a criminal suspect, so the issue has not been closely examined through typical criminal appellate processes.
Moreover, the Deprivation of Rights law makes it unlawful for a police officer to willingly take away another person’s constitutional rights. Does a person have a constitutional right to receive medical aid from a first responder, though? The gray area in the law is quite dark and cloudy because, as Attorney Tamburino pointed out, neither the words “indifference” nor “failure” are said anywhere in that statute.
Again, Lane was not convicted for aiding and abetting Chauvin or failing to intervene. He was only convicted, in so many words, for being indifferent to George Floyd’s medical needs and suffering. But the law does not say clearly that a police officer can or should be tried and convicted for being indifferent, even when that indifference is fully intentional.
As such, the case could make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and eventually answer significant questions determining if and when police officers can be charged, prosecuted, and convicted across the country. “Do people have the constitutional right to receive medical aid from a police officer?” “Can a police officer be criminally guilty for simply being indifferent to an apparent crime?” Due to the monumental weight of these questions, Attorney Joe Tamburino will be paying close attention to this case as it seemingly inevitably makes its way up the appellate system, and he advises that you do, too. After all, the outcome will impact the lives of every American in one way or another.
For more information about this case, you can read Attorney Tamburino’s full opinion piece that was published recently in the Star Tribune by clicking here. [Log-in and subscription may be required.] To learn more about the Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. team, you can contact the firm by using a quick online contact form at any time.