The charges come after a state jury already convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for George Floyd’s murder.
WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal grand jury brought civil rights charges early Friday against the four former police officers involved with the death of George Floyd: Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.
In just four short pages, the indictment slams the ex-Minneapolis officers with three counts of depriving Floyd of his rights under color of law.
“Specifically, the defendants saw George Floyd lying on the ground in clear need of medical care, and willfully failed to aid Floyd, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to substantial risk of harm to Floyd,” the indictment states. “This offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, George Floyd.”
The charges come weeks after a Minnesota jury found Chauvin guilty of murdering Floyd, with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announcing a federal probe into the Minneapolis Police Department the following day.
Chauvin and the other officers were fired and arrested within days of Floyd’s death, which was filmed by bystanders. The ghastly footage showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes on May 25 as Floyd pleaded for his life was a flashpoint for something of a racial reckoning. Protests and riots soon swept across the United States, with Americans holding up Floyd and the police killings of other unarmed Black Americans, including Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, as evidence of the need for criminal-justice reforms.
Kueng, Lane and Thao, the three officers who stood by as Chauvin killed Floyd, are scheduled to go to trial in August on state aiding-and-abetting charges. Chauvin was convicted of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on April 20.
“Federal prosecution for the violation of George Floyd’s civil rights is entirely appropriate, particularly now that Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder under Minnesota law for the death of George Floyd,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement Friday.
Chauvin is the second police officer in Minnesota history to be convicted of murder for an on-duty killing. The first was former Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor, who was convicted in 2019 of third-degree murder for the killing of Justine Ruszcyk Damond.
Chauvin’s was the first trial in state history to be broadcast live. The trial of Keung, Lane and Thao will follow that trend when it begins on Aug. 23.