The four former Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers involved in George Floyd’s death pleaded not guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights Tuesday.
Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, and Tou Thao are accused of violating a federal law that forbids government officials from abusing their authority. Additionally, Kueng and Thao, who saw Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground, have been charged with failing to intervene. All four were also charged with failing to provide first aid to Floyd.
According to the Justice Department, if convicted of causing bodily harm while violating the federal civil rights statute, all four could face up to a decade in prison and fines.
Chauvin, who was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, is currently serving a 22.5-year sentence. If he is convicted, he will serve his sentence concurrently with the one he’s serving now.
The four former Minneapolis police officers appeared in the hearing virtually so their lawyers could argue more than 30 pretrial motions.
According to NPR, in one of the motions, Kueng and Thao have asked that their trials be separated from Chauvin’s, saying their clients would be unfairly prejudiced alongside him. Lanes’ attorney asked to join the request, which is being opposed by U.S. prosecutors, who said the charges stem from the same event.
Major changes could be coming to the Minneapolis Police Department as a result of Floyd’s case and verdict. The Justice Department is currently investigating Minneapolis Police practices to determine if there’s an unconstitutional or unlawful policing pattern.
Also, Minneapolis residents will vote in November on a ballot question that would change the city’s charter and replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a department of public safety.
On May 25, 2020, Floyd was killed when Chauvin pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. Floyd’s death, along with the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, sparked a nation and worldwide movement for Black Lives.