Jan 20, 2022 - News

Federal trial to begin for 3 officers involved in George Floyd killing

courtroom drawing of officer trial

In this courtroom sketch, three former Minneapolis officers charged in the death of George Floyd appear in federal court on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. Image: Cedric Hohnstadt via AP

The three former Minneapolis police officers who were at the scene when Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd in May of 2020 will stand trial on federal civil rights charges at a courthouse in St. Paul, starting Thursday.

The big picture: This is the third case involving law enforcement to be tried in the Twin Cities in less than a year.

The charges: A federal indictment issued in May alleges that Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane "willfully failed to aid" Floyd during and after former officer Chauvin kneeled on his neck.

  • Those actions, according to federal prosecutors, violated Floyd's right to be free from unreasonable seizure and from an officer's "deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs" while in custody.

What they're saying: All three officers have pleaded not guilty.

What to expect: Jury selection should last several days, with opening statements scheduled for Jan. 24, according to the Star Tribune.

Between the lines: Concerns about COVID-19 sidelining jurors and disrupting the trial prompted U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson to urge attorneys to "move the case along," per the Associated Press.

  • Magnuson plans to seat 18 jurors, including six alternates, to lessen the chance that illnesses disrupt or delay the trial.

What's different: Unlike Chauvin's criminal trial, the federal proceedings will not be televised.

  • The 12 jurors and six alternates will also come from across the state, instead of only Hennepin County, the Star Tribune notes.

What's next: A separate trial on criminal charges brought against the three officers has been postponed to June.


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