Federal trial begins for three former policemen accused of violating George Floyd's civil rights

The three former officers will face a separate state trial in June

Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:10am

The federal trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating the civil rights of the late George Floyd as fellow ex-Officer Derek Chauvin held him to the ground begins Monday, following a swift jury selection process last week.

Former Officers J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are charged with failing to provide Floyd medical care. Thao and Kueng are additionally charged with failing to stop Chauvin from acting as he did in May 2020 during a call for service. Chauvin was convicted last year in a state court of murder and manslaughter.

Prosecutors will likely have to prove that the three former cops willfully violated Floyd's constitutional rights. Defense attorneys are expected to pin the blame for Floyd's death squarely on Chauvin.

Video footage of Floyd's death sparked a worldwide protest movement that occurred at the height of the coronavirus pandemic over the summer of 2020. The video appears to show Kueng kneeling on Floyd's back and Lane holding down his legs as Thao keeps bystanders from intervening. 

The indictment accuses the three officers of failing to help Floyd, who was in obvious need of medical care – in action which led to his death.

Lawyers representing the Floyd family have said the video of the incident shows that the three officers "directly contributed to (Floyd’s) death and failed to intervene to stop the senseless murder."

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson told the jurors that the trial could last about four weeks. It is, of now, unclear whether any of the officers will testify.

In addition to the federal trial, the three former officers face a state trial set to begin in June.