by Amy Forlitti
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Four former Minneapolis police officers accused of civil rights violations of George Floyd pleaded not guilty to federal charges against him on Tuesday.
A federal grand jury in May found Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao on May 25, 2020 for allegedly depriving Floyd of his rights while acting under government authority because Floyd, 46, was confronted, handcuffed and not resisted in a restraint that That the viewer was captured on video. His death led to protests around the world and calls for a change in the police system.
All the four people attended the hearing remotely through videoconferencing. Chauvin appears from a room in the state’s maximum security prison, where he is serving a 22 1/2-year sentence for murder in the death of Floyd. The other three men with their lawyers appeared from afar.
Prosecutors and attorneys for the former officers are also arguing their positions on about 40 pretrial motions Tuesday.
Among them, Kueng and Thao have said that their federal trials should be separated from those of Chauvin, saying it would unfairly prejudice them if they went to trial with him. Lane asked to join the request, which is being opposed by prosecutors. US Magistrate Judge Tony Leung said he would give oral arguments on that motion.
Keung’s lawyer, Tom Plunkett, wrote in court documents that the evidence against Chauvin would confuse the jury and deny Kueng his right to a fair trial. He also said that there is a conflict of interest due to the level of Chauvin’s conviction in Floyd’s death, adding that “the jury will not be able to follow the court’s directions and divide the evidence as it is from Mr. is related.”
Prosecutors said in court documents that the four former officers should face trial together, as the charges stem from the same incident and the evidence is similar.
The federal indictment alleges that Chauvin violated Floyd’s right to be released from unreasonable seizure and undue force by a police officer. Thao and Kueng have been charged with violating Floyd’s right to be freed from undue seizure by not intervening to stop Chauvin while kneeling on Floyd’s neck. All four officers are also accused of denying Floyd his rights when they failed to provide him with medical care.
During Floyd’s arrest, he repeatedly said he could not breathe as Chauvin slammed him to the ground. Kueng and Lane helped rein in Floyd; According to evidence in state court, Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, and Lane grabbed Floyd’s leg. During the 9-1/2-minute restraint, Thao restrained the audience and prevented them from interfering.
The four officers were also indicted in state court, where Chauvin’s trial was eventually set aside from the others due to space restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chauvin was convicted of manslaughter and manslaughter in April and sentenced to 22 1/2 years. The other three former officers face a state trial next March for aiding and abetting.
Chauvin is also charged in a separate federal indictment that he violated the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.
Meanwhile, the federal government is investigating policing practices in Minneapolis. An investigation known as a “pattern or practice” — examining whether there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or illegal policing — involves a comprehensive review of the entire police department. This could result in major changes in policing in the city of Minnesota.
Watch the AP’s full coverage of George Floyd’s death here: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd