Ex-officers accused of violating George Floyd's civil rights plead not guilty

Ex-officers accused of violating George Floyd's civil rights plead not guilty
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The former Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd in May 2020 pleaded not guilty to federal charges on Tuesday.

Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Keung and Tou Thao appeared in a remote court hearing alongside their attorneys, where they pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, The Associated Press reported.

A federal grand jury indicted the men in early May for violating Floyd’s constitutional rights over the killing that sparked national outrage.

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The four men were charged with failing to administer first aid to Floyd as Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Chauvin, Keung and Thao are also charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and excessive force.

Chauvin was already sentenced to 22 1/2 years in a Minnesota state prison in late June after being convicted of second-degree murder and manslaughter, as well as third-degree murder in April.

Lane, Keung and Thao are also facing state charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter over Floyd’s death, but they will face trial for those charges next March so that they can stand trial for the federal charges.

Keung held down Floyd’s back and Lane held his legs as Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, according to records in a Minnesota state court. Thao held back bystanders as the encounter occurred.

Floyd’s death sparked months of demonstrations against police brutality and for racial justice, and also led to creation of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would implement a series of police reform measures. 

A day after Chauvin was found guilty on the state charges, the Department of Justice announced that it was investigating the policing practices of law enforcement officials in Minneapolis.