Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane and Tou Thao, the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd, have pleaded not guilty to separate federal charges that they violated the man’s civil rights during the fatal arrest in May 2020, reports the Washington Post. Federal prosecutors allege Chauvin violated Floyd’s constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable seizure and from unreasonable force by a police officer. Kueng and Thao were charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure by not intervening as Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck and back. All four officers were charged with failing to render medical aid to Floyd.
Attorneys for Kueng, Lane and Thao requested their trials be separated from Chauvin’s, arguing that their clients would be unfairly prejudiced by having their fates linked to Chauvin and warning that a joint trial could result in a blame game among their clients, with the other officers pointing the finger at Chauvin, the veteran officer at the scene. Meanwhile, the Associate Press reports that Ramsey County Judge Leonardo Castro has suspended Minnesota’s new stricter standards on when police can use deadly force, halting a change in state law that followed Floyd’s while in the officers’ custody. Castro ruled that the changes to the law will be put on hold until a lawsuit filed by several law enforcement groups is complete. The use of force conditions will now revert to those that were in place before the new law went into effect in March 2021. The 2020 law change no longer allows officers to justify deadly force by claiming that they used such force to protect themselves or another person from “apparent” death or great bodily harm.