3 Ex-Minneapolis Cops Ask for Trial Separate From Derek Chauvin to Avoid Prejudice

Three ex-Minneapolis cops charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights asked for their trials to be separate from Derek Chauvin's, who has already been convicted, to avoid prejudice, the Associated Press reported.

In court filings place by attorneys for J. Kueng and Tou Thao, they state their clients would be unfairly prejudiced if they went to trial alongside Chauvin. An attorney for Thomas Lane filed a motion to join at his co-defendants' request.

Tom Plunkett, attorney to Kueng, said the evidence against Chauvin could be used to confuse the jury and deprive his defendant's right to a fair trial. "The jurors will not be able to follow the Court's instructions and compartmentalize the evidence as it related to Mr. Kueng," he said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

3 Ex-Cops Ask for Separate Trial
Three ex-cops asked for their trials to be separate from Derek Chauvin's in an effort to avoid any prejudice in the trial. Jordan and Royal Pacheco learn of George Floyd's murder at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's sentencing, on June 25, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A federal grand jury indicted Chauvin, Kueng, Thao and Lane in May, alleging they violated Floyd's rights while acting under government authority as Floyd was restrained face-down, handcuffed and not resisting.

The four officers were also charged in state court, where Chauvin's trial was eventually separated from the others due to space restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison. The other three former officers face state trial next March on aiding and abetting counts.

Floyd, 46, repeatedly said he couldn't breathe as Chauvin pinned him to the ground on May 25, 2020. Kueng and Lane helped restrain Floyd; Kueng knelt on Floyd's back, and Lane held Floyd's legs. Thao held back bystanders and kept them from intervening during the 9 1/2-minute restraint that was captured on bystander video and led to worldwide protests and calls for change in policing.

The federal indictment alleges Chauvin violated Floyd's right to be free from unreasonable seizure and from unreasonable force by a police officer. Thao and Kueng are charged with violating Floyd's right to be free from unreasonable seizure by not intervening to stop Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd's neck. All four officers are charged for their failure to provide Floyd with medical care.

The requests to separate the trials were filed with several other routine requests on Tuesday.

Bob Paule, an attorney for Thao, said he also wanted his client's trial separated from Chauvin's, but his filing suggests he wants to separate Thao's trial altogether, saying, "The jury will have insurmountable difficulty distinguishing the alleged acts of each defendant from the alleged acts of his co-defendants."

Paule said Thao's Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself would be in jeopardy if the trials were held together.

"Mr. Thao will obtain a fair and more impartial trial he is tried separately from his co-defendants," Paule wrote.

The officers are scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 14. A trial date has not been set.

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

3 Ex-Cops Ask for Separate Trial
Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison. People gather outside the Hennepin County Government Center and listen to victim impact statements during the sentencing of Chauvin on June 25, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images