The Twin Cities are preparing for another big trial stemming from the killing of George Floyd, as three former Minneapolis police officers face federal charges this month that they violated Floyd’s civil rights during his May 2020 arrest. Former officer Derek Chauvin won’t be on trial, making it easier for the other three former officers to lay the blame on him for Floyd’s death, the Wall Street Journal reports. “I think it’s an answer to their prayers,” said Joseph Daly, emeritus professor of law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul and a longtime defense attorney, of Chauvin’s guilty plea. Chauvin admitted to federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights, leaving the three other officers to face trial on their own. Chauvin was convicted of murder last year in a state trial and was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.
Jury selection in the federal case against former officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng is set to begin Jan. 20 in downtown St. Paul. The three officers also face a state trial this March for aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Thao, a veteran officer, kept onlookers at bay as they repeatedly yelled for police to help Floyd. Kueng, a rookie officer, knelt on Floyd’s back, and Lane, another rookie. “The defense was always going to point the finger at Derek Chauvin, especially for when you think about some of these police officers who were new to the job,” said Rachel Paulose, a former U.S. Attorney in Minnesota. “This certainly does make it easier for them to throw Chauvin under the bus and not have to worry about a co-defendant sitting there at the table with them.” The federal trial was assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson.