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Four Former Police Officers in Floyd Case Face Federal Charges

    2021-5-7

    Four former police officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last year are to face a federal civil rights trial.

    A federal grand jury has decided to bring charges against the four accusing them of violating George Floyd’s constitutional rights. A grand jury is a group of citizens who study evidence to decide if there should be a trial in a legal case. The decision was made public Friday.

    Floyd died after officers restrained him on the ground during his arrest on May 25, 2020. During the arrest, Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe in an incident which was filmed and shown all over the world.

    In this May 25, 2020 file image from surveillance video, Minneapolis police Officers from left, Tou Thao, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are seen attempting to take George Floyd into custody in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool,
    In this May 25, 2020 file image from surveillance video, Minneapolis police Officers from left, Tou Thao, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are seen attempting to take George Floyd into custody in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool,

    The charges

    Derek Chauvin is charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and excessive force.

    Tou Thao and J. Alexander Keung are also charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure. The charging document alleges that the two did not try to stop Chauvin as he put a knee on Floyd’s neck.

    All four officers, Chauvin, Keung, Thao, and Thomas Lane, are charged with failure to provide Floyd with medical care.

    Chauvin is also charged in connection with the arrest and restraint of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.

    Three of the former officers, Lane, Thao and Keung, appeared before the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis through a video link. Chauvin was not part of the court appearance.

    In April, a court in Minneapolis found Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter charges brought by the state of Minnesota. He is being held in a high security prison in the state as he waits for his sentence to be decided by a judge.

    The three former officers named by the federal grand jury also face state charges in a trial planned for August. They are free after paying a bond to ensure that they appear for trial.

    The incident

    The charges are the result of the arrest of Floyd last year. The officers stopped Floyd after he was accused of trying to use false money at a store and acting unusually. Court evidence states that Floyd resisted being arrested.

    Chauvin then restrained Floyd on the ground with his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. State lawyers say that Kueng placed his knee on Floyd’s back and Lane held down Floyd’s legs during the arrest. The state lawyers also say Thao held a gathering crowd back and prevented them from intervening in the arrest.

    Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer argued during his murder trial that the former officer acted reasonably in the situation. He said that Floyd died of existing health problems and was using drugs at the time. He also requested a new trial for Chauvin noting several issues. Among the issues was that the judge did not move the trial to another place although the incident caused violent protests in Minneapolis.

    Floyd’s arrest was captured on video by many people who gathered around the arrest. The incident brought public anger and protests, both peaceful and violent, across the country against police use of force and racial inequality.

    I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.

    Amy Forliti and Mike Balsamo reported this story for the Associated Press. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    allege –v. to state without definite proof that someone has done something wrong or illegal

    indictment –n. an official written statement charging a person or persons with a crime

    bond –n. an amount of money that someone promises to pay if a prisoner who is permitted to leave jail before trial fails to return to appear for the trial

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