Four former Minneapolis police officers face federal civil rights charges for their role in the arrest and murder of George Floyd, according to court documents unsealed yesterday, showing the Justice Department’s tougher stance in such cases.
A grand jury issued a three-count indictment charging Derek Chauvin – the white former officer convicted in Minnesota state court of murdering Floyd – and three fellow former officers of violating his constitutional rights, including his right to not have his medical needs ignored.
“The defendants saw George Floyd lying on the ground in clear need of medical care, and willfully failed to aid Floyd,” the indictment says.
Also charged were Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane.
Attorneys for the four men did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on the charges.
Thao, Kueng, and Lane appeared with their lawyers in federal court in Minneapolis yesterday by video.
All three were released on $25,000 bond.
Chauvin, who is awaiting a sentencing hearing on his state convictions, remains in custody.
The charges were the latest sign the Department of Justice under new Democratic President Joe Biden is taking a harder line against police abuses, a role that civil rights advocates say the department neglected during Republican Donald Trump’s administration.
In a confrontation captured on video, Chauvin pushed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020, as he and the three other officers arrested the 46-year-old black man.
Floyd, who was in handcuffs, had been accused of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a grocery store.
His death prompted protests against racism and police brutality last year in many cities across the United States and around the world.
Chauvin was convicted of state murder charges last month.
His lawyers on Tuesday requested a new trial, saying that there was prosecutorial and jury misconduct and errors of law at trial and that the verdict was contrary to the law.
The federal indictment charges Chauvin, Thao, Lane, and Kueng with depriving Floyd of his liberty and showing “deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs”.
Thao, Kueng, and Lane, all of whom were fired and arrested days after Floyd’s death, face state charges at a trial set for August 23 that they aided and abetted the second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of Floyd.
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