At a virtual hearing on Tuesday, the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in connection with George Floyd’s death each pleaded not guilty to federal charges.
Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng are accused of infringing on Floyd’s constitutional rights by “willfully failing to aid” Floyd when he was “clearly in need of medical attention.”
Last May, Lane and Keung attempted to take Floyd to a police squad car as he was handcuffed and suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd collapsed to the ground, claiming authorities he wasn’t resisting but didn’t want to go in the car because he was afraid of claustrophobia, according to prosecutors.
Chauvin, who came at the scene later with Thao, was seen on tape kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, eventually murdering him. In the federal trial, Chauvin is accused of wilfully depriving Floyd of his right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure. He is currently serving a 22-and-a-half-year prison sentence for Floyd’s murder. According to the indictment, Chauvin violated Floyd’s constitutional right to due process by pinning him to the ground while he was handcuffed and unresisting.
Kueng and Tao were also charged with failing to intervene and stop Chauvin when he used “unreasonable force,” according to the grand jury.
In addition, the three policemen face two charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder in state court.
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On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Tony Leung heard arguments from the attorneys for Kueng, Lane, and Thao, who have requested for their federal trials to be separated from Chauvin’s. They maintained that combining the procedures would be unfair because of Chauvin’s prior convictions.
Due of Thao’s status as a senior officer to the two rookie officials at the time, his attorney, Bob Paule, claimed that his client’s case should be segregated from not just Chauvin’s but also Kueng’s and Lane’s.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the former officer’s cases were separated this year, according to assistant US attorney Manda Sertich. However, she claims that the severance requirement in state and federal procedures is “quite different.” COVID, according to Sertich, will be less of a problem because of the government’s facilities and resources.
“Based on the instructions given to the jury, it will be evident that this is not a murder case,” Serich said Tuesday.
“This is a case concerning constitutional issues, so to the extent that the fact that Mr. Chauvin was convicted of murder causes any prejudice, I am confident that the defense will make the difference that those are not the accusations here, and the jury will be properly informed.”
Chauvin is due back in federal court on Thursday to face a separate charge in the indictment accusing him of kneeling on the neck of a teenaged boy in 2017.
On Tuesday, Leung did not indicate a new trial date.
Source: CBS news