This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by him and the other Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Kueng, Lane and Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin.
Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office | AP
A federal grand jury has indicted Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers for violating the civil rights of George Floyd, the Black man whose videotaped death last May during an arrest sparked nationwide protests and demands for reform of police departments.
Chauvin separately was charged in another federal indictment with violating the civil rights of a 14-year Minneapolis boy during a September 2017 arrest by holding the boy by the neck and hitting him multiple times in the head with a flashlight “without legal justification.”
The new criminal charges revealed Friday come nearly three weeks after Chauvin was convicted at a state trial of murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd, and three months before the other ex-officers are due to face another state trial for his death.
The federal indictment accuses Chauvin — who held his knee on or around the neck of a handcuffed and prone Floyd for more than nine minutes — of killing the 46-year-old while violating his rights to be protected from use of unreasonable force by a police officer.
It also accuses two of Chauvin’s fellow cops — Tou Tao and J. Alexander Kueng — of “willfully” failing to intervene to stop Chauvin from using unreasonable force, a failure that also led to Floyd’s death.
All three ex-officers, along with the fourth, Thomas Lane, are accused of letting Floyd die by willfully failing to aid him when they saw Floyd “lying on the ground in clear need of medical care.”
Floyd was being detained by the cops on suspicion of having used a counterfeit bill in a purchase.
In the separate federal indictment related to his arrest of the 14-year-old, Chauvin likewise is accused of holding his knee on the neck and upper back of the boy, even after the teen “was lying prone, handcuffed, and unresisting.”
“This offense resulted in bodily injury to” the boy, that indictment says.
Chauvin, whose actions against the boy were caught on camera, was responding to a call by a woman who said that her son and daughter had assaulted her, the Star Tribune newspaper has reported. The Star Tribune also reported that Chauvin struck the boy in the head repeatedly with his flashlight after the boy refused to get up off the floor, and then chocked the boy unconscious with his knee.
The federal criminal indictments are separate from a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the practices of the Minneapolis Police Department that was announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland a day after Chauvin was convicted.
Garland said that probe will assess whether the MPD “engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests.”
The Star Tribune last week reported that on the heels of the state jury verdicts against Chauvin that federal prosecutors were preparing to ask a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Minnesota to indict Chauvin and the other three cops involved in arresting Floyd. The newspaper also had reported federal authorities wanted to have Chauvin indicted for the case involving the 14-year-old.
Chauvin, an 18-year police veteran, is due to be sentenced in the state case in June.
Earlier this week his lawyers filed an appeal seeking a new trial, arguing that pre-trial publicity in the case harmed Chauvin’s right to fair trial. The appeal also says the trial judge erred in not granting a defense motion that sought to have Chauvin tried outside of Minneapolis.
All four of the ex-cops are charged in the new federal indictment with deprivation of rights under color of law, alleging they “willfully deprived George Floyd of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free from unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from use of unreasonable force by a police officer.”
One of the counts, which is aimed solely at Chauvin, says that the cop held his left knee across Floyd’s neck, and his right knee on Floyd’s back and arm, and kept his knees on “Floyd’s neck and body even after Floyd became unresponsive.”
“This offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, George Floyd,” the indictment says.
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Count two of the indictment says that Thao and Keung, “were aware” that Chauvin was using his knee to hold Floyd down by the neck, and that he continued to do so “even after Floyd became unresponsive.”
“The defendants willfully failed to intervene to stop Defendant Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force,” the indictment says. “This offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, George Floyd.”
All four cops are jointly charged with violating Floyd’s civil rights by acting with “deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.”
“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 a substantial risk of harm to Floyd,” the indictment says.
“This offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, George Floyd.”