- Four former Minneapolis police officers pleaded not guilty to violating George Floyd’s civil rights.
- The officers all were arraigned Tuesday in federal court in Minnesota.
- The judge didn’t rule on three of the ex-cops’ motion to sever their case from Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering Floyd.
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Derek Chauvin and three of his former Minneapolis police colleagues pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal civil rights charges in the death of George Floyd.
The four officers are charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and excessive force, as well as failing to provide Floyd with medical care. Chauvin faces a second federal civil rights indictment stemming from the violent arrest of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.
Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020, outside of a Cup Foods convenience store in Minneapolis. The jury in Chauvin’s murder case heard evidence that the senior officer kneeled on Floyd for more than nine minutes as he begged for his life. Thao, Kueng, and Lane await their own state trials on charges related to Floyd’s death.
Lawyers for Chauvin’s co-defendants argued Tuesday that their clients should be tried separately, saying that Chauvin’s conviction would unfairly prejudice a federal jury against them.
“We should be severed from Derek Chauvin because we should not be settled or branded with his conviction of murder on the same facts,” Thomas Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said. “Everyone knows Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder, so are we going to be presumed innocent? I don’t think so.”
Chauvin appeared in the hearing by video from the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Oak Park Heights, where he is serving his 22 1/2 year sentence on the Floyd murder. At one point during the arraignment, whistling, slamming doors, and other background noise at the prison was disrupting the court proceeding and Chauvin needed to mute his feed.
Gray and Thomas C. Plunkett, the attorney who represents Kueng, have already made reference to their clients being junior officers who’d spent only a few days on the job at the time of the Floyd’s death.
For that same reason, Thao, who’d been a Minneapolis police officer for years, wants to be tried separately from all his former colleagues, his attorney Robert Paulie said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda Sertich argued that severing the former officers’ cases wouldn’t be helpful because any juror would know about the conviction, whether or not Chauvin himself was sitting in the courtroom.
While the officers’ cases had already been severed in state court, US Magistrate Judge Tony Leung noted that it is rare to sever cases in federal court. He didn’t rule on the former officers’ motion Tuesday.