Derek Chauvin — who was recently found guilty for the murder of Floyd — and ex-officers Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao each face federal counts related to violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure, as well as their failure to provide Floyd with medical care. Chauvin was hit with an additional charge of unreasonable force by a police officer.
Lane, Thao, and Kueng — who each face trial in August for aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter — made their initial court appearances Friday via videoconference, the Associated Press reports. If convicted, each officer faces a prison sentence.
“The charges announced today are criminal, while the pattern or practice investigation [that was announced last month] is a civil investigation that will be conducted separately and independently from the criminal case, and will be handled by a different team of career staff from the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” the Justice Department said in a statement Friday.
“The federal government has a responsibility to protect the civil rights of every American and to pursue justice to the fullest extent of federal law,” Minneapolis Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement. “Federal prosecution for the violation of George Floyd’s civil rights is entirely appropriate.”
“Today’s federal indictment for criminal civil rights violations associated with the murder of George Floyd reinforces the strength and wisdom of the United States Constitution,” lawyers for the Floyd family said in a statement following the announcement of the civil rights charges.
“The Constitution claims to be committed to life, liberty, and justice, and we are seeing this realized in the justice George Floyd continues to receive,” the statement read. “This comes after hundreds of years of American history in which black Americans unfortunately did not receive equal justice. The constitutional violations that George suffered are clear, and were also detailed by our civil litigation team last July. Further, the additional indictment of Derek Chauvin shows a pattern and practice of behavior. We are encouraged by these charges and eager to see continued justice in this historic case that will impact black citizens and all Americans for generations to come.”
In the case of Chauvin, if found guilty of the federal civil rights charges, he would be sentenced to serve a prison sentence that runs concurrently with his conviction on second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter charges in the murder of Floyd. Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced on those charges on June 25th.