The federal trial of three former Minneapolis cops charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights as Derek Chauvin fatally kneeled on his neck for nearly ten minutes is expected to begin with opening statements Monday.
Ex-cops Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Kueng are charged with failing to provide Floyd, 46, medical care in his arrest on May 25, 2020. Thao and Kueng also face an additional count for not stopping Chauvin.
Floyd died after Chauvin pressed him to the ground with his knee while Floyd was facedown, handcuffed and gasping for air.
Keung, who is black, kneeled on his back, while Lang held down his legs.
At the same time, Thao kept a growing crowd of bystanders from intervening.
Footage of the deadly encounter shot by a bystander set off an international reckoning against racial injustice in law enforcement. Chauvin, who was convicted of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death, was sentenced to 22 ½ years in prison in June. The former cop is also awaiting a separate sentencing after pleading guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights in December.
Attorneys for Floyd’s family insist video shot by a witness shows the three cops “directly contributed” to his death and “failed to intervene” in his killing. The officers’ defense attorneys, meanwhile, are expected to blame Chauvin for the slaying.
Eighteen people were selected as jurors in the case on Thursday. Just two of them – including an alternate – appear to be of Asian descent, while the remainder appear to be white.
Judge Paul Magnuson insisted that religion, race and ethnicity had “absolutely nothing” to do with the high-profile case. Federal court officials declined to release the demographic of the panel.
The jury that convicted Chauvin, 45, was half white and was better reflective of Minneapolis’ population, which is 64 percent white, according to US Census figures. The jury empaneled Thursday includes people across the state, which is 78 percent white.
Federal prosecutors in the case must prove that Lane, Thao and Kueng willfully deprived Floyd of his constitutional rights. An indictment alleges they saw he clearly needed help and medical care, which they failed to provide.
Thao and Keung also allegedly violated Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure by not intervening with Chauvin as he kneeled on Floyd’s neck. Lane is not cited in that count, although evidence shows he asked on two occasions if Floyd needed to be rolled onto his side.
The trial could last up to four weeks, the judge told jurors. It’s unclear if any of the officers or Chauvin are expected to testify, although legal experts said that they do not believe the Chauvin will take the stand unless he testifies on behalf of his former colleagues.
If convicted, Lane, Thao and Kueng could face up to life in prison under federal law. The former cops will also face a separate trial in June on state charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
With Post wires