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Former Cops Accused of Violating George Floyd’s Civil Rights Plead Not Guilty

 

Four former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a federal hearing that included arguments on several pretrial motions, including requests to hold separate trials. The four former officers were also charged in state court, where Chauvin was convicted in April of murder and manslaughter. The other three former officers face state trial next March on aiding and abetting counts.

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, as Floyd, 46, was held face-down, handcuffed, and not resisting in a restraint that was captured on bystander video. His death led to worldwide protests and calls for change in policing.

The hearing also addressed roughly 40 pretrial motions, though many were similar. Most of the motions were routine, such as agreeing when names of witnesses would be disclosed. But Leung heard oral arguments on two issues and ordered attorneys to file additional written arguments on those motions.

As Floyd was being arrested, he repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe as Chauvin pinned 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 held back bystanders and kept them from intervening during the 9 1/2-minute restraint. While all four officers are charged broadly with depriving Floyd of his rights while acting under government authority, the indictment breaks down the counts. A count against Chauvin alleges he violated Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force by a police officer.

Thao and Kueng are charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure by not intervening to stop Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck. All four officers are charged with depriving Floyd of his rights when they failed to provide medical care.

Attorneys for Lane and Kueng asked the judge to remove language from the indictment that says their clients had been police officers since December 2019. Earl Gray, Lane’s attorney, said his client was still in training and remained under supervision for months. Gray said Lane was working his fourth shift without supervision when he encountered Floyd. Tom Plunkett, Kueng’s attorney, said his client was on his third shift without supervision. Both attorneys said language in the indictment that indicates otherwise would be “unfair”. Kueng, Thao, and Lane are also asking that their federal trials be separated from Chauvin’s, saying they would be unfairly prejudiced if they went to trial alongside him.



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