Chauvin, 3 Others Plead Not Guilty to Federal Charges

Ex-Minneapolis officers are accused of violating George Floyd's civil rights
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2021 5:18 PM CDT
4 Ex-Cops Deny Violating George Floyd's Civil Rights
This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows from left, former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.   (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP File)

Four former Minneapolis police officers pleaded not guilty to federal charges in the death of George Floyd Tuesday—and three of them asked for their trials to be separated from that of Derek Chauvin, who is in prison for murdering the Black man. Chauvin appeared remotely from a maximum security prison for the arraignment Tuesday, CNN reports. A federal indictment says the officers violated Floyd's civil rights, including the right to be free from unreasonable force, during the May 2020 arrest that led to his death.

The Tuesday hearing also dealt with dozens of pretrial motions, the AP reports. Lawyers for Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, and Tou Thao have asked for their trials to separate from Chauvin's. They argue that trying the men alongside a man convicted of murder in the case would deprive them of the right to a fair trial. US Magistrate Judge Tony Leung did not indicate how he would rule on the issue. The three officers will also face trials in state court in Minnesota on second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

Lawyers for Keung and Lane also argued that the indictment inaccurately said the men had been police officers since December 2019, the Star Tribune reports. In what was seen as a preview of their defense strategies, they said their clients had been in training and under supervision for months. Keung was on his third shift without supervision on the day of Floyd's death and Lane was on his fourth, the lawyers said. "Common sense dictates that a law officer with four days on the job would be less apt to intervene," Lane's attorney said. Prosecutors argued that December 2019 was when they graduated from the police academy and became officers. (More George Floyd stories.)

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