Three Officers on the Scene With Derek Chauvin Still Face Charges

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U.S.|Three other officers on the scene with Derek Chauvin still face their own charges.

June 25, 2021, 4:29 p.m. ET

June 25, 2021, 4:29 p.m. ET

Minneapolis police officers, from left, Tou Thao, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane attempting to take George Floyd into custody.
Credit...Pool photo by Court TV

MINNEAPOLIS — The sentencing of Derek Chauvin to 22 and a half years in prison for the second-degree murder of George Floyd will bring a measure of closure to a case that has deeply traumatized the Twin Cities and set off mass protests across the nation.

But it won’t be the end of the saga: Mr. Chauvin is expected to appeal his conviction, and three other officers who were on the scene with Mr. Chauvin and assisted in the arrest of Mr. Floyd still face their own charges, in both state and federal courts.

Originally scheduled to stand trial together in August, after Mr. Chauvin’s conviction Judge Peter A. Cahill ruled that the second trial will be held next March. He said he wanted to put some “space” between the overwhelming publicity generated by Mr. Chauvin’s trial and the trial of the other officers.

Judge Cahill’s decision to delay the trial came after a federal indictment was issued against Mr. Chauvin and the other officers, charging them with violating Mr. Floyd’s constitutional rights. A trial date for the federal case has not been scheduled.

There is also speculation that prosecutors for both the state and the Department of Justice are eager to reach plea deals, and avoid altogether further trials that would traumatize, once again, Mr. Floyd’s family, the many witnesses who appeared at Mr. Chauvin’s trial, and the wider community.

The other three officers are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. If they are convicted they could face the same sentence Mr. Chauvin receives.

All three officers were seen on the harrowing bystander video that captured Mr. Floyd’s agonizing final moments, and was the central piece of evidence at Mr. Chauvin’s trial.

Two of the officers were rookies and in their first days on the job: Thomas Lane, 38, who was seen in the video holding down Mr. Floyd’s legs; and J. Alexander Kueng, 27, who was positioned on Mr. Floyd’s back. The third officer, Tou Thao, 35, a veteran and Mr. Chauvin’s partner, held back a group of bystanders who became increasingly vocal as they watched Mr. Floyd say repeatedly that he could not breathe.

Mr. Lane and Mr. Kueng were the first officers to arrive at Cup Foods, a convenience store in South Minneapolis where Mr. Floyd allegedly used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes. By then, Mr. Floyd was sitting outside in a car, and Mr. Lane approached him with his gun raised and yelling profanities. The officers handcuffed Mr. Floyd, who was initially compliant.

But when they tried to get him in the back of their squad car, Mr. Floyd said he was claustrophobic and suffering from anxiety, according to the transcript of body camera footage. By then, Mr. Chauvin had arrived, and after more than nine minutes of being pressed to the concrete under Mr. Chauvin’s knee Mr. Floyd went limp, and silent.

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