Federal Trial Begins for Three Former Minneapolis Police Officers Who Stood by During George Floyd’s Murder

Former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao (left to right) are set to go on trial in federal court charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights. / AP

A jury was seated Thursday in the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers who were on the scene when fellow officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes and ultimately killed him.

A pool reporter in the courtroom said of the 10 women and eight men chosen for the jury, 16 appeared to be white and two appeared to be Asian.

Magnuson told the court the trial could last for about a month, NPR member station Minnesota Public Radio reported. Opening statements are expected Monday.

This week’s trial is one of a series of legal consequences for the four ex-officers charged by federal and state authorities in Floyd’s killing, which set off a wave of global protests over racial justice and police accountability after it occurred in May 2020.

Federal Judge Paul Magnuson told prospective jurors Thursday the federal case was complicated by the separate state court proceedings against Chauvin. However, jurors “have to decide this case based upon the evidence that is presented in this case, and the law as the court will instruct you in this case,” he said.

Chauvin is white and Floyd was Black, and a video of the arrest showed Floyd lying face-down on the street and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” as he became unresponsive. The footage captured the attention of the world and served as a key piece of evidence at Chauvin’s state trial last year.

Outside the courthouse on Thursday, Floyd’s partner Courteney Ross said she only recently watched the video of Floyd’s death in its entirety.

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SOURCE: NPR, Joe Hernandez and Jonathan Franklin