Four former Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officers pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges they violated the civil rights of George Floyd, a Black man, when he was pinned face-down on a city street on May 25, 2020, the day he was killed.
The former police officers — Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane — were arraigned before a U.S. magistrate judge via videoconference in Minneapolis. Chauvin, who is serving a 22½-year sentence for the murder of Floyd, appeared from a room at a Minnesota maximum security prison.
The civil rights charges stem from Floyd’s death after police detained him on suspicion that he had tried to pass a $20 counterfeit bill at a nearby convenience store.
Bystanders captured cellphone videos of Chauvin restraining Floyd, who gasped that he could not breathe. The other three officers assisted in the arrest or kept bystanders from intervening to help Floyd.
Chauvin was convicted of manslaughter and murder earlier this year, while the other three former officers face trials next March on charges of aiding and abetting.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Tony Leung is deciding a number of legal questions in the civil rights case, including requests by Thao, Kueng and Lane to separate their trials from Chauvin’s, a motion that prosecutors oppose.
The death of Floyd reverberated throughout the U.S. and the world, with street protesters calling for police reforms and the end of police abuse of minorities in the weeks that followed.
Published on 2021-09-14