Chauvin And Three Other Officers Face New Federal Civil Rights Charges

Mugshot of Derek Chauvin (Photo by Ramsey County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)
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Four Minneapolis police officers, including Derek Chauvin, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for alleged civil rights violations in the death of George Floyd.

The indictment was unsealed Friday, and names Chauvin, J. Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane as defendants.

The first count of the three-count indictment charges Chauvin with depriving Floyd of his civil rights for allegedly pinning him down on the ground with his knee, as captured in the notorious video by a bystander. 

“Specifically, Defendant Chauvin held his left knee across George Floyd’s neck, and his right knee on Floyd’s back and arm, as George Floyd lay on the ground, handcuffed and unresisting, and kept his knees on Floyd’s neck and body even after Floyd became unresponsive,” the indictment said. “This offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of George Floyd.”

The second count of the indictment charges Kueng and Thao with depriving Floyd of his civil rights by allegedly not intervening to stop Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force.

The third count charges all four officers with depriving Floyd of his civil rights by allegedly not offering him medical care while he was on the ground, “in clear need.” 

All the officers but Chauvin reportedly made their initial court appearances via teleconference in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on Friday. 

Chauvin was convicted last month on state charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after kneeling on Floyd’s neck until he died, ignoring his protestations that he couldn’t breathe. The slow killing, captured on film by teenaged bystander Darnella Frazier, catalyzed a massive wave of protests last summer and threatened to do so again if Chauvin had been acquitted. 

Chauvin is in custody as he awaits sentencing on the state charges. The other three officers will go to trial in August.

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, newly reinvigorated under the Biden administration, was reportedly preparing civil rights charges against the four officers even while the country waited anxiously for Chauvin’s verdict from the state court. 

The department has also opened “pattern-or-practice” civil rights probes into the Minneapolis police department and the Louisville Metro police department, whose officers killed Breonna Taylor during a no-knock raid in March 2020. Late last month, they announced that a federal grand jury had indicted three men in Georgia on hate crimes charges in the February 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

Read the indictment here:

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