Four former Minneapolis police officers pleaded not guilty to the federal charges made against them in the George Floyd civil rights case. According to USA Today, ex-cops Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao appeared before a judge on Tuesday (Sept. 14), and virtually denied violating Floyd during a virtual court arraignment.
On May 25, 2020, as Chauvin suffocated Floyd to death, fellow responding officers Kueng, Lane and Thao allegedly assisted in the restraint. Per reports, Kueng kneeled on the late man’s back, and Lane held onto his leg, while Thao prevented witnesses from saving Floyd for nearly 10 minutes.
In the wake of Floyd’s death, their actions and use of excessive force amid the struggle resulted in a grand jury’s decision to indict them for violating Floyd’s civil right to be free from unreasonable seizure and force by a police officer.
Additionally, the ex-cops were charged for failing to render aid to the victim, whose pleas to breathe were ignored.
Due to space restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chauvin was tried independently from the other three cops. The state court eventually convicted him on all charges in connection to the death and sentenced him to 22.5 years in prison. Lane, Kueng and Thao, however, are set to face trial in March.
During Tuesday’s (Sept. 14) federal hearing, attorneys requested motions ahead of the forthcoming trial. The attorneys for Kueng and Thao, for example, asked to be tried separately from Chauvin to prevent from any potential bias following his recent murder conviction.
Attorney Tom Plunkett specifically argued that standing alongside Chauvin in court would deprive his client Kueng of his right to a fair trial. Unfortunately, however, prosecutors denied the requests, noting that the four former officers should be tried together considering they have similar charges from the same event.