Four former Minneapolis police officers pleaded not guilty to violating George Floyd’s civil rights in a federal court on Tuesday.
Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao appeared in court via videoconference to make their pleas. Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering Floyd earlier this year, joined from a room in a Minnesota maximum-security prison, according to USA Today.
A federal grand jury indicted all four officers in May of allegedly violating Floyd’s civil rights when they restrained him while attempting to arrest him last May. Chauvin, who was shown restraining Floyd with a knee on Floyd’s upper body, was convicted of murder over his part in the arrest.
Kueng and Thao have petitioned the federal court to hold their trials separately from Chauvin’s. The two former officers argue that being tried alongside Chauvin would prejudice the jury against them and, as a result, they may not get a fair trial. Lane has asked the court to let him join Kueng and Thao’s request.
“The federal indictment alleges Chauvin 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 also charged with depriving Floyd of his rights when they failed to provide him with medical care,” NPR reports.
In April, Chauvin was convicted of three felonies in relation to Floyd’s death.
According to The Daily Wire:
After a little over ten hours of deliberation, a jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in relation to the death of George Floyd.
The jury considered three separate charges, “second-degree murder—unintentional, while committing a felony; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “The judge explained that third-degree murder requires proof Mr. Chauvin caused Mr. Floyd’s death by committing an eminently dangerous act that was highly likely to cause death and showed a reckless disregard for human life. To convict Mr. Chauvin of second-degree manslaughter, the jurors would need to conclude that culpable negligence and reckless actions by Mr. Chauvin caused Mr. Floyd’s death.”
They found Chauvin guilty on all three.
Chauvin’s trial generated national attention after Floyd’s death sparked massive protests and riots across major U.S. cities, costing local governments and residents millions of dollars in damage in some cases. The riots that broke out after Floyd’s death could cost insurance companies as much as $2 billion, according to one estimate.
The Department of Justice allegedly planned to arrest Chauvin at a Minneapolis courthouse had he not been found guilty of murder or manslaughter in Floyd’s death. As The Daily Wire reported:
The Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) reportedly planned to arrest former Minneapolis Police Office Derek Chauvin in court and charge him with civil rights violations if the jury were to find him innocent of murder.
“Leading up to Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, Justice Department officials had spent months gathering evidence to indict the ex-Minneapolis police officer on federal police brutality charges, but they feared the publicity frenzy could disrupt the state’s case,” a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune outlined. “So they came up with a contingency plan: If Chauvin were found not guilty on all counts or the case ended in a mistrial, they would arrest him at the courthouse, according to sources familiar with the planning discussions.”
This “backup plan,” the report said, wasn’t “necessary” for the DOJ, since the jury on April 20 found Chauvin guilt of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in relation to the death of George Floyd.