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Demonstrators protest outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis on April 19, 2021 during the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murdering unarmed Black man George Floyd in May 2020. (Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Demonstrators protest outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis on April 19, 2021 during the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murdering unarmed Black man George Floyd in May 2020. (Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images) 

Four Minneapolis Cops Charged With Federal Civil Rights Crimes in George Floyd Case

A federal grand jury indicted Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng of willfully depriving the unarmed Black man of his constitutional rights. 

Brett Wilkins

Seventeen days after jurors in a state trial found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd last May, a federal grand jury on Friday indicted Chauvin and three of his former colleagues for allegedly violating the unarmed Black man's civil rights during his deadly arrest.

The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) announced Friday that Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane stand charged with "federal civil rights crimes for their roles" in Floyd's death on May 25, 2020. 

According to a DOJ statement, the three-count indictment (pdf) alleges that "all four defendants, while acting under color of law, willfully deprived Mr. Floyd of his constitutional rights."

"Chauvin's actions violated Mr. Floyd's constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer and resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, Mr. Floyd," the DOJ statement said. 

Chauvin is currently awaiting sentencing scheduled for June 25 after being convicted on April 20 of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes. 

The second count of the indictment charges that "Thao and Kueng willfully failed to intervene to stop Chauvin's use of unreasonable force, resulting in bodily injury to, and the death of, Mr. Floyd."

"Finally, count three of the indictment alleges that all four defendants saw Mr. Floyd lying on the ground in clear need of medical care and willfully failed to aid him," the DOJ said. "The indictment alleges that by doing so, all four defendants willfully deprived Mr. Floyd of his constitutional right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law, which includes an arrestee's right to be free from a police officer's deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs."

In the same statement, the DOJ announced a separate two-count indictment (pdf) charges Chauvin with "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." That indictment stems from a September 4, 2017 incident in which Chauvin, "without legal justification, held the teenager by the throat and struck [him] multiple times in the head with a flashlight."

Additionally, the second indictment also "charges that Chauvin held his knee on the neck and the upper back of the teenager even after [he] was lying prone, handcuffed, and unresisting, also resulting in bodily injury."

The federal indictments come three months before the scheduled state trial of Kueng, Lane, and Thao, who in June 2020 were charged with aiding and abetting Floyd's murder. 

All four of the indicted individuals were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department after Chauvin murdered Floyd—who allegedly spent a counterfeit $20 bill in a local convenience store. 


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