Trial of Minneapolis officers in George Floyd case slated to begin in January

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The federal civil rights trial for the four Minneapolis police officers charged in connection with the death of George Floyd is slated to begin in January, according to a letter sent to prospective jurors. 

The questionnaires mailed out to potential jurors orders them to report on Jan. 20 to the courthouse where Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane will stand trial. 

This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows from left, former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. The federal civil rights trial of the four former Minneapolis police officers indicted in the killing of George Floyd is on track to begin in January, according to a judge’s letter.  (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson noted that some of the questions could seem a bit intrusive in an attempt to find an impartial panel in such a highly-publicized case.

“We do this not because we wish to pry into the private lives of prospective jurors, but because we are obligated to ensure that the jurors who hear the case will be fair and impartial,” Magnuson wrote.

The trial is expected to run through mid-February, according to a copy of the summons packet obtained by the Star Tribune. 

Floyd was held face down handcuffed as Chauvin pressed his knee on the back of his neck during the May 2020 encounter. Video footage of the incident captured by a bystander unleashed a wave of protests and riots in multiple cities and spurred a nationwide conversation on police reform. 

The officers were indicted in May for allegedly depriving Floyd of his rights. Chauvin was sentenced in June to 22.5 years in prison on state charges for second-degree unintentional murder in Floyd’s death. 

Kueng, Thao and Lane face a state trial next March on aiding and abetting counts.

Some issues are still lingering ahead of the trial, including a magistrate judge’s ruling that the four officers should be tried together. Attorneys for Kueng, Thao and Lane have argued that Chauvin, already found guilty, should be tried separately in order to ensure a fair trial for the other three former officers. The trio could still ask Magnuson for an independent ruling.

A George Floyd mural in Minneapolis.

Chauvin is also charged in a separate federal indictment alleging he violated the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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