On Friday a federal grand indicted the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd‘s arrest and death, stating that they violated Floyd’s constitutional rights after he was arrested and restrained by the use of excessive, deadly force.
The unsealed indicted named former Minneapolis officers, Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, and Tou Thao.
Chauvin faces charges of “violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force by a police officer,” according to the Associated Press. In addition, the former cop was charged with a second indictment relating to the arrest and neck restraint of a 14-year-old boy in September 2017.
Thao and Kueng are charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and are accused of not intervening as Chauvin kneeled on Chauvin’s neck, leading to his demise. The group was also charged with failure to provide Floyd with medical care.
Justice Department officials said the decision to move forward with the charges stemmed from an investigation within the Civil Rights Division. Last month Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the DOJ would open a probe into the Minneapolis Police Department’s practices.
Last month Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in a long trial that riled up fear in Black communities. Over the last nine years, several high-profile police-involved deaths have resulted in little to no consequences, with or without camera evidence. Chauvin’s conviction marked an important point in the fight for accountability, but also signaled an even further walk towards justice.
Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020 after Chauvin erringly kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. During the trial Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson incredulously argued that Floyd’s death was instead caused by his drug addiction, an effort that was invalidated by a series of stirring testimonies from Chauvin’s police colleagues, experts and bystanders.
Earlier this week Nelson filed a motion for a new trial, on grounds that there was jury misconduct.
According to the Associated Press, Nelson could not be reached for comment regarding the federal charges.
Prosecutors will have to prove that the officers acted under a statue called “color of law,” and were set on taking away a person’s constitutional rights, “including the right to be free from unreasonable seizures or the use of unreasonable force.
To convict an individual on civil rights charges prosecutors will also have to prove that the officers were aware of their wrongdoing and moved forward regardless. In essence, if found guilty of federal civil rights charges, you could spend life in prison or receive the death penalty, but that type of sentencing rarely occurs in these cases.
Experts believe that Chauvin could face anywhere from 14 years to at least 24 years if the prosecutors use second-degree murder as an underlying offense. Chauvin’s sentence would be served concurrently with his prior conviction.
Chauvin awaits sentencing on June 25 in a maximum-security prison while the three other officers are scheduled to face a state trial beginning in August. Lane, Kueng, and Thao remain out on bond even after Friday’s announcement and a court-appointed video appearance.