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Federal trial for former officers charged in George Floyds killing set for August


MINNEAPOLIS - Three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyds civil rights during an arrest that turned fatal last May are scheduled to go on federal trial in August.

A scheduling order issued late Friday by U.S. District Magistrate Judge Tony Leung said former officers Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao will be arraigned on federal civil rights charges July 14 in Minneapolis, followed by an Aug. 2 trial to be held at the federal courthouse in St. Paul.

The decision comes one day after Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill postponed the former officers' August trial on state charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death until March, paving the way for the federal case to take place first.

A federal grand jury indicted Kueng, Lane and Thao along with former officer Derek Chauvin last week on charges they violated Floyd's constitutional rights during a May 25, 2020 arrest, when he was restrained, handcuffed and face down on a Minneapolis street as he begged for breath before losing consciousness. Chauvin was also indicted on a second federal charge alleging he violated the civil rights of a 14-year-old by hitting him with a flashlight and kneeling on him during a 2017 arrest.

Chauvin, who pressed his knees into Floyd's neck and back for nine minutes and 29 seconds, was convicted last month of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death. Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced in that case on June 25.

Though all four officers are cited in a joint complaint, Chauvin's case is not mentioned in Leung's scheduling order. Chauvin, who is being held in solitary confinement at a Minnesota prison as he awaits sentencing in the state case, has yet to make a formal appearance in the federal case.

It was not immediately clear if Chauvin would be tried separately on the federal charges. His attorney, Eric Nelson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thomas Plunkett, an attorney for Kueng, declined to comment. Attorneys for Lane and Thao did not respond to requests for comment.

The federal indictment alleges Chauvin violated Floyd's right to be free from unreasonable seizure and from unreasonable force by a police officer. Kueng and Thao were charged with violating Floyd's right to be free from unreasonable seizure by not intervening as Chauvin pressed his knees into Floyd's neck and back. All four officers were charged with failing to render medical aid to Floyd.

"Specifically, the defendants saw George Floyd lying on the ground in clear need of medical care and willfully failed to aid Floyd, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Floyd," the indictment read.

Kueng, Lane and Thao appeared during a virtual hearing last week on the charges and were released on bond. Their state trial is scheduled to begin March 7, 2022.

Published : May 15, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Holly Bailey