Four former police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights

Tanya Simon
May 7, 2021

Four ex-police officers have been charged with violating the civil rights of African-American George Floyd, whose murder in Minneapolis previous year sparked global outrage.

The final officer, Thomas Lane, is charged with "deliberate indifference" to Floyd's medical needs. They were allowed to remain free after Friday's federal court appearance.

Thao, Kueng and Lane also face state charges, including aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd's arrest and death, which a bystander captured on video, sparked protests nationwide and widespread calls for an end to police brutality and racial inequality. After appearing in court Friday morning over the new federal charges against them, all three were released on $25,000 bond. The state lawyers also say Thao held a gathering crowd back and prevented them from intervening in the arrest.

Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison said the federal government is responsible for protecting the civil rights of every American and "federal prosecution for the violation of George Floyd's civil rights is entirely appropriate", particularly now Chauvin has been convicted of murder.

Brandon Mitchell is one of 12 jurors who convicted Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.

He has filed a request for a new trial, citing issues including the judge's refusal to move the trial due to publicity. Messages seeking comment were left for the attorneys representing the other three former officers in state court.

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On or about September 4, 20t7, in the State and District of Minnesota, the defendant, DEREK MICHAEL CHAUVIN, while acting under color of law, willfully deprived Juvenile I of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free from an unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer.

The Minneapolis Police and Peace Officers Association, which is providing legal representation for the four officers in their state cases, said it will be doing the same in federal court with the same attorneys. That's a high legal standard; an accident, bad judgment or simple negligence on the officer's part isn't enough to support federal charges.

"No police officer is above the law, nor should they ever be shielded from accountability".

In video shot by a bystander and local traffic camera, Thao was seen standing between onlookers and his fellow officers as they pinned Floyd to the pavement.

The indictment in Mr Floyd's death says Thao and Kueng were aware Chauvin had his knee on Mr Floyd's neck, even after he became unresponsive, and "wilfully failed to intervene to stop defendant Chauvin's use of unreasonable force". Chauvin is accused of holding the teen by the neck and hitting him with a flashlight.

President Joe Biden's administration has made policing reform a major issue.

The Justice Department said Friday's indictment is separate from its recently announced and still ongoing civil "pattern or practice" investigation looking into the policing practices of the entire Minneapolis Police Department. If Chauvin were found not guilty on all counts or the case ended in a mistrial, the Justice Department planned to arrest him at the courthouse on the federal charges, according to multiple sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record. Experts say he will likely face no more than 30 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.

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