The four former Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers involved in George Floyd’s death have all pleaded not guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights Tuesday.
Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao are accused of violating a federal law that forbids government officials from abusing their authority. Additionally, Kueng and Thao, who saw Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground, have been charged with failing to intervene. All four were also charged with failing to provide first aid to Floyd.
If convicted of causing bodily harm while violating the federal civil rights statute, all four could face up to a decade in prison and fines according to the Justice Department.
Chauvin, who was convicted of second degree unintentional murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter is currently serving a 22.5 year sentence. If he is convicted, he would serve his sentence concurrently with the one he’s serving now.
The four former Minneapolis police officers appeared to the hearing virtually so their lawyers could argue more than 30 pretrial motions
According to NPR, in one of the motions, Kueng and Thao have asked that their trials be separated from Chauvin’s saying their clients would be unfairly prejudiced alongside him. Thomas’ attorney asked to join the request, which is being opposed by U.S. prosecutors, who said the charges stem from the same event.
Major changes could be coming to the Minneapolis Police Department as a result of Floyd’s case and verdict. The Justice Department is currently investigating Minneapolis Police practices to determine if there’s a pattern of practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing.
Also, Minneapolis residents will vote in November on a ballot question that would change the city’s charter and replace the Minneapolis police department with a department of public safety.
Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020 when Chauvin pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. Floyd’s death, along with the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery sparked a nation and worldwide movement for Black Lives.