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Feds charge Chauvin, 3 former cops with civil rights violations in Floyd death

From left, former police officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, involved in death of George Floyd. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office/TNS)
May 07, 2021

The four Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday, alleging that they willfully violated Floyd’s constitutional rights during his arrest.

According to federal court documents obtained by The Associated Press, Derek Chauvin is accused of engaging in unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force by a police officer. Two of the other officers, J. Kueng and Tou Thao, are also charged with violating Floyd’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizure on the basis that they did not intervene as Chauvin held Floyd on the ground.

Each officer is also charged with failing to provide medical care to Floyd. Additionally, Chauvin was charged in a second indictment involving the neck restraint of a 14-year-old in 2017.

Lane, Thao and Kueng appeared in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis virtually for the first time Friday. Chauvin was not present in the court appearance.

The AP reported that if federal civil rights convictions are punishable by up to life in prison, as well as the death penalty, but those harsh sentences are rare.

Last year, viral video showed what appeared to be then-officer Chauvin keeping his knee pinned to the back of Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes during his arrest until he became motionless. Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country, with many demonstrating in opposition to police brutality.

Almost one year later on April 20, Chauvin was found guilty of all three charges relating to Floyd’s death, including unintentional second-degree murder, third degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

During the trial, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson asserted that the former cop acted within reason during the arrest, arguing that Floyd died as a result of underlying health problems and drug use.

Nelson recently filed a request for a new trial, alleging misconduct on the part of the judge, prosecution and jurors, The Washington Post reported. Nelson said Judge Cahill’s refusal to sequester the jury prior to deliberations allowed them to be exposed to damaging news coverage that facilitated “jury intimidation and potential fear of retribution among jurors.”

The attorney’s motion also calls for an investigation into whether the jury “committed misconduct, felt threatened or intimidated, felt race-based pressure during the proceedings and/or failed to adhere to instructions during deliberations.”

The motion comes after it was revealed that one of the jurors participated in a Black Lives Matter protest late last summer. During jury selection, Mitchell said he responded “no” when asked if he, or anyone close to him, had participated in any demonstrations or marches against police brutality following Floyd’s death.