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Civil rights trial starts for officers in George Floyd case

Video shows Minneapolis police Officers Thomas Lane (left) and J. Alexander Kueng escorting George Floyd to a police vehicle outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Associated Press/Court TV

Civil rights trial starts for officers in George Floyd case

While former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin restrained George Floyd on May 25, 2020, J. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, and Thomas Lane held the man’s legs. Tou Thao held back bystanders in the parking lot of the Cup Foods store, where Floyd was suspected of using a counterfeit bill to buy cigarettes. Attorneys made opening arguments in the three officers’ federal trial on Monday. They are accused of depriving Floyd of his civil rights while acting as a government authority. A jury last year convicted Chauvin of second-degree unintentional murder and other state charges related to Floyd’s death, which sparked anti-police protests and riots across the country.

What are the arguments? The prosecution must reach a high standard of proof to make the case that each man willfully violated Floyd’s civil rights. In opening arguments on Monday, they said the officers made several decisions that led to the man’s death. Defense lawyers held Chauvin responsible as the senior officer at the scene. They also criticized the Minneapolis Police Department for not training officers on how to intervene when another officer needs to be stopped. The judge said the trial might last up to four weeks.

Dig deeper: Read my report in The Sift about Chauvin pleading guilty to federal charges.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a WORLD reporter and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College. She resides in Washington, D.C.


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