Former Minneapolis police officers (from left to right) Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng
The trial of three former Minneapolis police officers who assisted Derek Chauvin in attempting to arrest George Floyd last May has been postponed until next year.
Judge Peter Cahill said during a hearing Thursday that the trial of three former officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao would begin in March, a pool reporter present in the courtroom said. The trial was scheduled for August.
Lane, Kueng and Thao were captured on video supporting Chauvin as the seasoned police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck and back during the arrest, resulting in Floyd’s death.
Chauvin, who is white, went on for about nine minutes while Floyd, a black, screamed for a piece of that time he couldn’t breathe. Floyd, arrested on suspicion of passing a fraudulent law, died in custody, and footage of his murder sparked months of anti-racism protests in the police force.
Cahill cited likely publicity related to Chauvin’s June 25 conviction as the reason for the delay. The judge also cited new federal charges against Chauvin and the three officials, which could result in more severe sentences than the state charges.
Earlier this month it was revealed that a federal grand jury had indicted all four former officials of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Chauvin was convicted of Floyd’s murder last month and faces a possible prison term of more than a decade.
On Wednesday, Cahill ruled that Chauvin had abused his authority as a police officer and treated Floyd with particular cruelty, which could significantly extend his sentence.
Chauvin was convicted of second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter. The other three officers were charged with assisting and facilitating second degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
The newly exposed federal indictment accused Thao and Kueng of failing to intervene while Chauvin used unreasonable violence that resulted in Floyd’s death. All four former officers were charged in the indictment of failing to provide assistance to Floyd while he was “clearly in need of medical care”.
The three former officers’ lawyers agreed to delay the trial, The Associated Press reported. Minnesota assistant attorney general Matthew Frank, a prosecutor on the case, declined the move.
People are holding posters following the verdict of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin convicted of the death of George Floyd outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 20, 2021.
Carlos Barria | Reuters