Jury selection is scheduled for Thursday in the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s constitutional rights while fellow officer Derek Chauvin used his knee to pin the Black man to the street, the Associated Press reports. J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are broadly charged with depriving Floyd of his civil rights while acting under government authority. Separately, they are charged in state court with aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter. Experts say the federal trial will be more complicated than the state trial, scheduled for June 13, because prosecutors have the difficult task of proving the officers willfully violated Floyd’s constitutional rights — unreasonably seizing him and depriving him of liberty without due process. Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor, says, prosecutors must show the officers should have tried to stop Chauvin, rather than show they did something directly to Floyd.
Would-be jurors have already answered an extensive questionnaire. Starting Thursday, they will be brought into a federal courtroom in St. Paul, where U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson will question them in groups. The process will continue until a group of 40 is chosen. Then, each side will get to use challenges to strike jurors. In the end, 18 jurors will be picked, including 12 who will deliberate and six alternates. Chauvin was convicted in April on state charges of murder and manslaughter and is serving a 22½-year sentence. In December, he pleaded guilty to a federal count of violating Floyd’s rights. Federal prosecutions of officers involved in on-duty killings are rare. Prosecutors face a high legal standard to show that an officer willfully deprived someone of their constitutional rights. An accident, bad judgment or negligence isn’t enough to support federal charges.