Chauvin, other officers plead not guilty to federal charges in Floyd death

This combination of handout photos provided by the Hennepin County Jail shows the booking photos of former Minneapolis police officers (L-R) Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Kiernan Lane. ©AFP

Minneapolis (AFP) - Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis policeman convicted of murdering George Floyd, and three other police officers pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal civil rights charges stemming from the death of the 46-year-old Black man.

Chauvin was sentenced in June to 22 and a half years in prison for Floyd's May 2020 death, which sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality across the United States.

Chauvin and three other police officers who were on the scene during Floyd's fatal arrest -- Tou Thao, Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane -- were charged with violating his constitutional rights and failing to respond to his medical needs.

Thao and Kueng were also charged with failing to intervene to stop Chauvin's use of unreasonable force against Floyd.

All four pleaded not guilty to the federal charges on Tuesday.Chauvin entered his plea from the maximum security prison where he is currently serving his sentence.

While Chauvin, 45, has already been convicted of the state charges, the other three police officers still face Minnesota charges for their role in Floyd's death.

They are to go on trial next March on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin, who is white, was captured on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly 10 minutes, until he fell unconscious and died.

Keung and Lane helped to restrain the handcuffed Floyd while Thao kept away bystanders who were pleading with the officers to get off of Floyd as he complained he was unable to breathe.

A jury took less than 10 hours to convict Chauvin in April at the end of a high-profile trial.The verdict was greeted with relief by many Americans amid fears an acquittal could trigger further unrest.

The Floyd family's lawyer called the sentencing a "historic" step towards racial reconciliation in the United States.

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