Sept. 14 (UPI) — Four former Minneapolis police officers pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal civil rights charges related to the killing of George Floyd last year.
Former officers Derek Chauvin, J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao appeared via video during the hearing to enter their pleas in federal court. A grand jury indicted each in May on charges they violated Floyd’s rights during his May 25, 2020, arrest in which Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes, killing him.
Chauvin is serving a 22.5-year prison sentence after he was convicted in June on state charges of murdering Floyd. Kueng, Lane and Thao also face state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, to which they have each pleaded not guilty.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Kueng, Lane and Thao’s lawyers filed motions seeking to have their trials separated from Chauvin’s. They said potential juries might be swayed in favor of convicting their clients because they’d be associated with Chauvin, who has been convicted of murdering Floyd.
Floyd’s death sparked worldwide protests against racial bias and police brutality and forced many law enforcement agencies to review and reform their policies on use of force.