A federal grand jury in Minnesota has voted to indict the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in the May 25, 2020, arrest of George Floyd, according to indictments unsealed Friday.
The three-count indictment names Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao. Specifically, Chauvin, Thao and Kueng are charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and excessive force. All four officers are charged for their failure to provide Floyd with medical care. Chauvin was also charged in a second indictment, stemming from the arrest and neck restraint of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.
Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Kueng appeared via videoconference in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Chauvin was not part of the court appearance.
CHAUVIN, EX-OFFICERS IN GEORGE FLOYD’S CASE COULD BE FEDERALLY INDICTED ON CIVIL RIGHTS CHARGES: REPORT
This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
DOJ MULLING CHARGES AGAINST DEREK CHAUVIN FOR 2017 ARREST INVOLVING 14-YEAR-OLD BOY: REPORT
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after Chauvin, who is White, held his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes — as Floyd was handcuffed and face-down on the pavement and despite his repeated shouts that he could not breathe.
Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and L. Chris Stewart, members of Floyd’s civil legal team, said Friday that the news “reinforces the strength and wisdom of the United States Constitution.
“The Constitution claims to be committed to life, liberty and justice, and we are seeing this realized in the justice George Floyd continues to receive. This comes after hundreds of years of American history in which Black Americans unfortunately did not receive equal justice,” the trio said in a statement.
It adds: “Further, the additional indictment of Derek Chauvin shows a pattern and practice of behavior. We are encouraged by these charges and eager to see continued justice in this historic case that will impact Black citizens and all Americans for generations to come.”
Chauvin stood trial for weeks last month in connection with Floyd’s death.
TRIAL OF OTHER COPS CHARGED IN GEORGE FLOYD’S DEATH TO BE BROADCAST
On April 20, a jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He faces decades behind bars at his sentencing, which is scheduled for June 25.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, argued during his murder trial that Chauvin acted reasonably in the situation and that Floyd died because of underlying health issues and drug use. He has filed a request for a new trial, citing many issues including the judge’s refusal to move the trial due to publicity.
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Nelson had no comment on the federal charges when contacted by The Associated Press on Friday.
Chauvin was the only officer charged in the separate, two-count indictment for “willfully depriving a Minneapolis resident who was then [14 years old] of the constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer,” the Justice Department said in its Friday morning press release.
During the Sept. 4, 2017 arrest, “Chauvin, without legal justification, held the teenager by the throat and struck the teenager multiple times in the head with a flashlight,” the release states. Chauvin also “held his knee on the neck and the upper back of the teenager even after the teenager was lying prone, handcuffed, and unresisting, also resulting in bodily injury.”
Chauvin used his knee to hold the teenager down for almost 17 minutes, according to a previous ABC News report.
“Just like with Floyd, Chauvin used an unreasonable amount of force without regard for the need for that level of force or the victim’s well-being,” state prosecutor Matthew Frank wrote in court papers pertaining to the 2017 arrest and previously obtained by ABC News.
“Just like with Floyd, when the child was slow to comply with Chauvin and [the other officer’s] instructions, Chauvin grabbed the child by the throat, forced him to the ground in the prone position, and placed his knee on the child’s neck with so much force that the child began to cry out in pain and tell Chauvin he could not breathe.”