One of three ex-Minneapolis policemen present at the death of George Floyd will testify in his own defence in a federal civil case against him and his colleagues.
The charge that Thomas Lane deprived Mr Floyd of his civil rights is “a perversion of justice”, his lawyer said.
Mr Lane, 38, and ex-officers J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are also facing state criminal charges.
The federal trial opened on Monday.
In her opening argument, Samantha Trepel, the government prosecutor, said that the three men should be held accountable for failing to act as Mr Floyd had his neck pinned to the ground by senior officer Derek Chauvin.
“These three CPR-trained defendants stood or knelt next to Officer Chauvin as he slowly killed George Floyd right in front of them,” she said.
The government is seeking to prove that the ex-officers showed “deliberate indifference to [Mr Floyd’s] serious medical needs” during the attempted arrest, thus depriving him of his right against illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.
It is rare for US police officers to be charged under civil rights statutes, and the trial could ultimately expand how officers are held liable for excessive use of force.
Twelve jurors and six alternates were selected for the trial last week.
Video evidence shows that, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Mr Floyd’s neck, Mr Lane restrained his legs, Mr Kueng, 27, held his torso, and Mr Thao, 35, warned bystanders to keep away from them.