Derek Chauvin, 3 cops plead not guilty arraignment over George Floyd

Derek Chauvin and three fired Minneapolis cops plead not guilty as they are arraigned for violating George Floyd’s civil rights

  • Chauvin, 45, Tou Thao, 35, J Alexander Kueng, 27, and Thomas Lane, 38, were arraigned on charges of willfully violating Floyd’s civil rights Tuesday
  • All four former cops were slapped with federal charges for failing to provide medical care to Floyd during his fatal arrest
  • Chauvin, Thao and Kueng were also charged with unreasonable force charges
  • If convicted, they face the federal death penalty or life in prison
  • Chauvin was convicted of Floyd’s second and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, at a state trial in Minneapolis
  • Thao, Kueng and Lane are asking that they stand trial separately to Chauvin

Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers have pleaded not guilty at their arraignment on federal charges over the killing of George Floyd.  

Chauvin, 45, Tou Thao, 35, J Alexander Kueng, 27, and Thomas Lane, 38, were arraigned on charges of willfully violating Floyd’s civil rights when he was pinned down by his neck under Chauvin’s knee for more than nine minutes until he passed out and died back in May 2020. 

The convicted killer and the three other cops were all slapped with federal charges for failing to provide medical care to Floyd during his fatal arrest.

Chauvin was also charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable force by a police officer, while Thao and Kueng are charged with failing to intervene to stop Chauvin using unreasonable force.    

If convicted on these charges, all four disgraced officers could face the federal death penalty or life in prison.

Chauvin was convicted of Floyd’s second and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, at a state trial in Minneapolis in April. He was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison.   

Thao, Kueng and Lane are also awaiting a state trial in March on charges of aiding and abetting Chauvin. The trial was originally slated for August but was delayed.

Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane left to right in booking photos in June. They were all arraigned on federal hate crimes charges Tuesday

Floyd (pictured) died Memorial Day 2020 when Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest over a counterfeit bill 

All four former cops entered not guilty pleas at the hearing and waived their rights to have the charges read out to them in court.  

Federal arraignment hearings typically involve defendants entering not guilty pleas.

The four defendants each appeared via videoconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Chauvin was asked to mute his microphone due to background noise from Minnesota’s maximum security prison where he appeared remotely via videolink. 

The other three defendants appeared remotely alongside their attorneys. 

The judge asked the prosecution and the defense about the number of experts they expect to present to the court at trial. 

The government said they expect to present testimony from medical experts and use of force experts but they are not sure of the number of experts at this time. 

The attorneys for the defendants each said they would also call medical and use of force experts.  

Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes (above) until he died last May 25 

A total of 40 pretrial motions will also be argued during the hearing.  

Thao, Kueng and Lane have asked that they stand trial separately to Chauvin, claiming they would be unfairly prejudiced if they went to trial alongside the convicted murderer. 

US Magistrate Judge Tony Leung said the hearing would address this issue. 

Attorneys for Kueng and Thao filed a motion in August, saying evidence against Chauvin would confuse the jury and deprive Kueng of his right to a fair trial.

He also said there is a conflict of interest due to Chauvin’s level of culpability in Floyd’s death, saying ‘the jurors will not be able to follow the Court’s instructions and compartmentalize the evidence as it related to Mr. Kueng.’ 

Lane’s attorney then filed a motion asking to join their request.  

Prosecutors are arguing they should all be tried together.  

The federal indictment, unsealed in May, contained three counts relating to Floyd’s death – one charging all four cops, one charging Thao and Kueng and the third charging only Chauvin.  

Tou Thao leaves the Hennepin County courthouse in Minneapolis on July 21 2020 following a state hearing 

Thomas Lane (right) and J. Alexander Kueng (second from right) in September 2020

‘Count One of the indictment alleges that on May 25, 2020, Chauvin held his left knee across Mr. Floyd’s neck, and his right knee on Floyd’s back and arm, as George Floyd lay on the ground, handcuffed and unresisting, and kept his knees on Mr. Floyd’s neck and body even after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive,’ the indictment reads.

This violated Floyd’s constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer and resulted in Floyd’s injury and death, says the indictment.

The second count charges Thao and Kueng for failing to intervene to stop Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force. 

The indictment says the two officers were ‘aware aware’ Chauvin was holding his knee on Floyd’s neck and continued to hold it there after he became unresponsive. 

‘This offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, George Floyd,’ it reads.  

The third count alleges all four cops saw Floyd lying on the ground in clear need of medical care and failed to aid him. 

‘By doing so, all four defendants willfully deprived Mr. Floyd of his constitutional right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law, which includes an arrestee’s right to be free from a police officer’s deliberate indifference to his serious medical need,’ according to the indictment.

Chauvin at his sentencing in June where he was sent to prison for 22 and a half years for George Floyd’s murder 

‘This offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, Mr. Floyd.’  

Each of the three counts in this indictment fall under the federal civil rights statute ‘Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law.’

Under this statute, if the crime results in death – which the indictment says each count did – punishment includes being ‘fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death’, the FBI website states.  

Chauvin was also charged in a second federal indictment over a 2017 incident where he knelt on a black 14-year-old boy’s neck for nearly 17 minutes and allegedly repeatedly hit him over the head with a flashlight. 

Chauvin is charged with two counts over this incident. 

The first count alleges Chauvin held the boy by the throat and struck him multiple times in the head with a dangerous weapon – a flashlight – causing him injury.  

The second count charges that Chauvin held his knee on the neck and the upper back of the teen even after the 14-year-old was lying prone, handcuffed, and unresisting, also causing him bodily injury. 

On each of these charges, Chauvin faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine. 

This is the first time the convicted killer has ever faced charges over this incident. The 14 year-old involved in that incident has not been named. 

The federal civil rights charges – akin to hate crimes – are separate to the state’s charges which led to Chauvin’s trial and murder conviction and which the other three stand trial for in March.   

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