In a hearing in federal court Tuesday morning, Derek Chauvin and the three other former Minneapolis Police Department officers at the scene of George Floyd’s murder last year pleaded not guilty to violating the constitutional rights of the 46-year-old black man during his fatal arrest.
Chauvin – previously convicted murdered at the state level – Tou Thao and J. Alexander Keung all pleaded not guilty to depriving Floyd of the right to be free from unreasonable seizure and not having recourse to unreasonable force by a police officer. . They were joined by ex-cop Thomas Lane to also plead not guilty to being indifferent to Floyd’s medical needs and failing to help him during the arrest.
During the court proceedings, defense attorneys for former officers Thao, Keung and Lane also explained their reasons for believing their clients should be separated from Chauvin during the trial. Earl Gray, an attorney representing Lane, said the three officers would be marred by Chauvin’s conviction in April.
“It will be very difficult with Chauvin in this case to get a fair trial for the other three,” he said, adding that the other three officers “should not be saddled or branded with [Chauvinâs] conviction for murder. “
Gray and Thomas Plunkett, a lawyer representing Keung, also presented their defenses when they argued that the language of the indictment against the two officers stating that they had become police officers in December 2019 would be misleading for jurors . Both attorneys argued their clients had worked less than five shifts each prior to their meeting with Floyd in May 2020. Although both officers were sworn in to the department the year before, argued Plunkett, Lane and Keung were only officers in a “technical sense”. because they were still training with senior officers before their handful of solo shifts.
After hearing the arguments on Tuesday, the federal judge said he would weigh in on them after further discussions.