Story at a glance

  • Three former Minneapolis police officers facing federal charges for violating the civil rights of George Floyd are asking for trials separate from Derek Chauvin.
  • “The jury will have insurmountable difficulty distinguishing the alleged acts of each defendant from the alleged acts of his co-defendants,” Bob Paule, the attorney for Tou Thao said in a court filing.
  • Chauvin, J. Kueng, Thao and Thomas Lane were indicted by a grand jury in May for violating Floyd’s rights while acting under government authority.

Three former Minneapolis police officers facing federal charges for violating the civil rights of George Floyd are asking for trials separate from Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder in June. 

Attorneys for J. Kueng and Tou Thao said in court filings Tuesday that a trial alongside Chauvin, could jeopardize a fair trial for their clients, The Associated Press (AP) reported. Thomas Lane’s attorney joined the request. 

Keung’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, said “the jurors will not be able to follow the Court’s instructions and compartmentalize the evidence as it related to Mr. Kueng,” should he be tried next to Chauvin. 

Thao’s attorney Bob Paule joined the call for a separate trial from Chauvin, but he stated he wants separation from all defendants, according to the AP. 

“The jury will have insurmountable difficulty distinguishing the alleged acts of each defendant from the alleged acts of his co-defendants,” Paule said. 

“Mr. Thao will obtain a fair and more impartial trial if he is tried separately from his co-defendants,” Paule wrote, adding his clients Fifth Amendment right would potentially be infringed if tried together with the other defendants. 


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Chauvin, Kueng, Thao and Lane were indicted by a grand jury in May for violating Floyd’s rights while acting under government authority. Justice Department officials brought charges against the former officers after months of investigation by the department’s Civil Rights Division. 

Chauvin was sentenced in June to more than 22 years in prison, and his fellow former officers await their own state trials slated to begin next March, according to the AP. 


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Federal charges levied against Chauvin allege he violated Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and from unreasonable force by a police officer when the former officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Thao and Kueng were charged for failing to intervene or provide immediate medical care. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in April the Justice Department was prepared to arrest Chauvin on site had the jury declared a mistrial or found him not guilty. 


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Published on Aug 03, 2021