Former Minn. Officers Charged in George Floyd’s Death Want Separate Federal Trials 

By: ShaCamree Gowdy

Three former Minneapolis police officers who were fired for their roles in George Floyd’s death have filed motions to have their federal cases separated from Derek Chauvin’s trial. 

Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Derek Chauvin are accused by a federal grand jury of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights. All four officers are charged with neglecting to provide the 46-year-old with medical assistance after Chauvin took away Floyd’s right to be free from “unreasonable seizure,” including the right to be free from police officers using excessive force, per CNN’s Omar Jimenez. 

RELATED: ‘The work continues’: BNC remembers George Floyd one year after his death 

The officers were on scene at the time of his death, but failed to intervene as Chauvin kneeled in his neck for nearly nine minutes until he could no longer breathe.

Thao’s attorneys, Robert Paule and Natalie Paule, believe the jury will have “insurmountable difficulty distinguishing the alleged acts of each defendant from the alleged acts of his co-defendants,” which is one of many reasons they are asking for a separate case. 

Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, cited a conflict of interest between the defendants that “flows from Mr. Chauvin’s level of culpability.” Lane’s lawyer asked to be added to his co-defendants’ pretrial motions. 

Magistrate Judge Tony Leung has until August 17 to make a ruling on the motions. 

Chauvin has already been sentenced to 22.5 years in prison on counts of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He is also charged in a separate federal indictment for allegedly using excessive force on a 14-year-old in September 2017, during which time he was still with the Minneapolis Police Department. 

RELATED: Formerly incarcerated still face recidivism obstacles, particularly Black men 

The federal trial will begin on September 14 with the arraignment. The state trial for the three officers, each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, was postponed until March 7, 2022 in light of the federal charges. 

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.  

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