Ex-cops accused of violating Floyd’s rights plead not guilty
By AMY FORLITI Associate Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Four former Minneapolis police officers accused of violating George Floyd’s civil rights pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to federal charges against them.
A federal grand jury indicted Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao in May for allegedly depriving Floyd of his rights while acting under government authority on May 25, 2020, while Floyd, 46, , was being held face down, handcuffed and not resisting in a detention which was captured on a bystander video. His death has led to global protests and calls for a change in the police.
The four men appeared at the hearing remotely by videoconference. Chauvin appeared in a room in the state’s maximum security prison, where he is serving a 22-and-a-half-year sentence for murder in Floyd’s death. The other three men appeared from a distance alongside their lawyers.
Prosecutors and lawyers for the former officers are also arguing about 40 pre-trial motions on Tuesday.
Among them, Kueng and Thao demanded that their federal trials be separated from Chauvin’s, saying they would suffer unfair prejudice if they were to be tried alongside him. Lane has asked to join the request, which prosecutors are opposed to. It was not immediately clear whether this question would arise during Tuesday’s hearing, as both parties agreed the request was premature and asked to put it aside until more information became available. , according to court documents. But US trial judge Tony Leung said at the start of the hearing that it would be addressed.
The federal indictment alleges that Chauvin violated Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force by a police officer. Thao and Kueng are accused of violating Floyd’s right to be safe from unreasonable seizure by not intervening to stop Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck. The four officers are also accused of depriving Floyd of his rights when they failed to provide him with medical care.
During Floyd’s arrest, he repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe as Chauvin tackled him to the ground. Kueng and Lane helped restrain Floyd; Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane held Floyd’s legs, according to evidence in state court. Thao restrained passers-by and prevented them from intervening during the 9 and a half minutes of restraint.
The four officers were also charged in state court, where Chauvin’s trial was ultimately separated from the others due to space restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chauvin was convicted in April of murder and manslaughter and was sentenced to 22 and a half years. The other three former officers will be tried by the state next March for complicity.
Chauvin is also indicted in a separate federal indictment alleging that he violated the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.
Meanwhile, the federal government is investigating police practices in Minneapolis. The investigation known as the “model or practice” – examining whether there is an unconstitutional or illegal policing model or practice – involves a thorough examination of the entire police service. This could lead to major changes in policing in the city of Minnesota.
Find full AP coverage of George Floyd’s death at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd