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Federal prosecutors want more prep time for civil rights trial in George Floyd death

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is handcuffed in a courtroom
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is taken into custody after his conviction of murder in the death of George Floyd.
(Court TV / Pool Photo)

Prosecutors are asking a judge for more time to prepare for the federal trial of four former police officers facing civil rights charges in the death of George Floyd, calling the case unusual and complex, in part because of the sheer volume of evidence.

A federal grand jury indicted Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao last month, alleging that they violated Floyd’s rights while acting under government authority as Floyd was restrained face-down, handcuffed and not resisting. Chauvin is also charged in a separate indictment alleging that he violated the rights of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.

Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in Minnesota state court in April and is awaiting sentencing. The three other former officers also face a state trial next March on counts of aiding and abetting. That trial, initially scheduled for August, was pushed back partly so that the federal case could happen first.

The Speedy Trial Act requires that the federal trial begin within 70 days of charges being filed or an initial appearance, with some exceptions. A judge can extend the deadline if the case is found to be unusual or complex.

In documents filed Tuesday and last month, federal prosecutors said the case was a complex one because of the separate but coordinated state and federal investigations. Many of the witnesses in Chauvin’s weeks-long murder trial are also on the federal witness list, and more evidence is expected to come out during the state trial of the other officers.

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Prosecutors also said the case includes voluminous video and audio recordings and documents — totaling hundreds of gigabytes of data and tens of thousands of pages. Prosecutors said they received responses to more than 40 grand jury subpoenas for records, involving thousands of documents and other media items.

Prosecutors are seeking a 30-year sentence for the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, but a defense attorney is asking that Derek Chauvin be sentenced to probation and time already served.

Defense attorneys have not objected to a delay. A federal trial date has not been set.

Floyd, 46, repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe as Chauvin pinned him to the ground during an arrest May 25, 2020. Kueng and Lane helped restrain Floyd — Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane held Floyd’s legs. Thao held back bystanders and kept them from intervening during the nearly 10-minute restraint, which was captured on bystander video and led to worldwide protests and calls for racial justice and policing reforms.

The federal indictment alleges that Chauvin violated Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and from unreasonable force by a police officer. Thao and Kueng are charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure by not intervening to stop Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck.

All four former officers are charged for their failure to provide Floyd with medical care.


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