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Federal trial for three other ex-officers charged in George Floyd’s killing set for August

Andrew Cuomo

The federal trial for former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane, accused of civil rights violations in the death of George Floyd, is scheduled for August 2, a judge said Friday.

The three men — who were helping former officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, eventually killing him — will be arraigned on July 14 where they will be asked to plead to the charges.

Chauvin also faces federal criminal charges but his trial date has not been scheduled. He was convicted in state court last month of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter. His sentencing in that case is set for June 25.

As Chauvin kneeled on Floyd on May 25, Kueng held down Floyd’s torso, Lane held down his legs and Thao restricted bystanders from intervening, videos and testimony from that day show.

Last week, a federal grand jury indicted Chauvin, Thao, 35; Kueng, 27; and Lane, 38, in the death of Floyd, alleging the officers violated his constitutional rights, according to court documents filed in federal court in Minnesota.

Thao, Kueng and Lane are accused of “deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs,” according to the indictment.

Thao and Kueng were indicted as defendants who “willfully failed to intervene to stop Defendant Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force.”

Chauvin will be tried separately. No federal court date has been announced for him yet.

Thao, Kueng and Lane appeared in federal court last Friday via video conference, and all three were released on $25,000 unsecured bonds, meaning they didn’t have to post any collateral.

The federal trial will happen months before the three men’s state trial. It was postponed until March 7 so that the federal trial can take place first, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill announced Thursday, according to a pool reporter in court.

Kueng, Lane, and Thao are accused by state prosecutors of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors have also appealed to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against each of them.

Their roles in Floyd’s death

The three ex-officers’ actions on May 25, 2020, were shown in detail during Chauvin’s trial in videos from bystanders, police body cameras and surveillance footage.

Lane and Kueng were the first responding officers on scene when the Cup Foods store called police about a man using a suspected fake $20 bill. The two officers then went to a vehicle with Floyd sitting in the driver’s seat. Lane pulled out his firearm and pointed it at Floyd, yelling at the 46-year-old Black man to show his hands, according to their body camera footage.

Lane pulled Floyd from the vehicle and handcuffed him, and after a conversation on the sidewalk, the officers moved to put Floyd in the back of their squad car. Floyd resisted going inside the cramped vehicle, saying he was claustrophobic, and the officers physically struggled with him and tried to force him inside, the videos show.

Chauvin and Thao arrived in a separate squad car and tried to assist in getting Floyd into the vehicle. Chauvin then pulled Floyd from the vehicle and placed him on his stomach on the street, the videos show. He put his knees on Floyd’s neck and back, while Kueng held down Floyd’s torso and Lane held his legs.

Floyd stayed in that position, handcuffed and prone on the ground, for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, prosecutors said during Chauvin’s trial, even as he repeated “I can’t breathe” and called for his “mama.” He eventually stopped breathing, passed out and lost his pulse.

While Chauvin, Kueng and Lane restrained Floyd, Thao stood nearby and blocked concerned bystanders from getting close, repeatedly raising his voice and arguing with them.

During the restraint, Lane is heard asking, “Should we roll him on his side?” and Chauvin responded, “No, staying put where we got him,” according to body camera videos. Minutes later, Lane again said, “Want to roll him on his side?” the videos show. Kueng checked for Floyd’s pulse but could not find one. The officers at no point moved Floyd into a side recovery position to help with his breathing.

All four officers were fired in the wake of the bystander video’s release, and they were arrested and charged days later.

The officers’ backgrounds

Both Kueng and Lane were rookie officers without much experience.

Kueng was hired as a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department in December 2019. He had joined the department as a cadet in February 2019. He had no prior complaints.

Lane also joined the police department as a cadet in February 2019. He didn’t have a history of complaints.

Thao had been a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department since 2012. He had six complaints filed with internal affairs, one of which was still open, according to a Minneapolis Police Department internal affairs public summary. The other five were closed without discipline.

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