Federal trial begins for other Minneapolis officers involved in George Floyd's death

Monday marks the first day in the federal trial of the three former Minneapolis Police Department officers facing charges for violating George Floyd’s civil rights during the deadly arrest on May 25, 2020.

Former MPD officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao face charges of depriving George Floyd of his civil rights outside of Cup Foods after failing to intervene as fellow officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, and not providing medical assistance as Floyd took his last breaths. 

Former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng (left), Thomas Lane (center), and Tou Thao (right) have been charged in connection to George Floyd's death. (Hennepin County Jail)

The fourth ex-MPD officer, Derek Chauvin, has already pleaded guilty in the case.  

Cameras are not allowed in the federal courtroom, but FOX 9 Reporter Rob Olson will be there to watch and provide detailed updates and observations throughout the trial. Stay updated by following his Twitter or watching FOX 9 News at fox9.com.live.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson has estimated the trial to last four weeks.

Opening statements

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office are expected to take a total of 30 to 40 minutes to present their opening statement. While attorneys for each of the officers are expected to use similar lengths of time for their opening statements.

"My expectation is there will be a combination of argument and videos to start showing the video to show what each of these officers did wrong in depriving George Floyd of his rights," explained defense attorney Mike Bryant.

Bryant, who isn't involved in the trial, says prosecutors will likely point out the officers didn't intervene when Derek Chavin had his knee on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes. Along with the fact that the crowd voiced concern over Floyd's well-being, but the officers ignored them and that the police report the officers filled out didn't reflect what was actually seen in the videos.

Bryant says the defense attorneys will try to humanize the officers in their opening statements, but one size may not fit all when it comes to their strategies.

"They all have different levels of involvement," says Bryant. "You've got different levels of experience. You have different levels of what they did. So there is a possibility you may see one or two of them argue in a different manner than the third."

Once opening statements wrap up, witness testimony is expected to begin sometime Monday afternoon with the trial expected to last two weeks.

Ten women and eight men from across the state sit on the jury, and 12 of them will ultimately decide the conviction of the three former police officers.

Who is expected in the courtroom? 

  • U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson
  • Former MPD officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
  • Defense attorneys Robert Paule, Earl Gray and Thomas Plunkett
  • Attorneys from the U.S. Attorney's Office
  • Jurors
  • Witnesses
  • Court reporter
  • Four pool media reporters
  • Sketch artist

Who are the jurors?

The court has seated a total of 18 jurors, which includes 12 who will deliberate and six alternates. 

Jury demographics

  • 8 men and 10 women (check back later for information on age and race)

Where the jurors are from

  • 4 from Hennepin County
  • 4 from Ramsey County
  • 2 from Olmsted County
  • 2 from Washington County
  • 2 from Anoka County
  • 1 each from Jackson, Scott, Nicollet, Blue Earth counties

About the jurors

  • Juror #3: Man who has lived in Hennepin County for six months. Works at an architecture firm with a master's degree in architecture. Married, but no children.
  • Juror #6: Man from Hennepin County. Works retail at a department store. Spouse works at a grocery store. Has five children.
  • Juror #11: Man who has lived in Olmsted County for 55 years. Computer programmer with a bachelor's degree. Spouse does medical research. Has three children in their 20s.
  • Juror #14: Woman who has lived in Ramsey County for 18 years. Public affairs director for local government with bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Minnesota. Spouse is retired. Has two stepchildren and an 11-year-old daughter.
  • Juror #16: Woman from Blue Earth County. Retired, but was an accountant for a feed manufacturing company and has a bachelor's degree in business administration. Husband is also retired. Has two sons, ages 43 and 30.
  • Juror #30: Woman from Washington County. Has a bachelor's degree. Does logistics for a local cooperative with husband. Has three children, ages 2-10.
  • Juror #41: Man from Ramsey County. State government project manager. Wife is a university researcher. No kids.
  • Juror #43: Woman from Anoka County. Customer relations manager. Married with three adult kids. Husband is a truck driver.
  • Juror #46: Woman from Jackson County. Homeschool teacher for her five children (ages 12-20). Husband is a computer network administrator.
  • Juror #47: Man from Hennepin County. Maintenance manager. Army veteran. Girlfriend works in schools. Has two adult kids.
  • Juror #52: Woman from Washington County. School social worker with a master's degree in social work. Engaged to a seminary student.
  • Juror #60: Woman from Scott County. Works in product development. Has a master's degree. Retired husband with two kids, ages 18 and 21.
  • Juror #65: Man from Ramsey County. Account executive for a data company. Wife is a device technician. Has four children, ages 5-11.
  • Juror #69: Woman from Olmsted County. Food service worker at hospital with boyfriend. No kids.
  • Juror #70: Woman from Nicollet County. Retired, but was a hospital chef in Indiana. Late spouse. Two adult children.
  • Juror #73: Man from Ramsey County. Works in home mortgage. Wife is a stay-at-home mother of four young kids.
  • Juror #80: Man from Hennepin County. Veteran of Marine Corp. He and his wife are retired. Worked as a global business manager with a master's degree in business administration. Has four kids and five grandkids.
  • Juror #83: Woman from Anoka County. Publishing graphics specialist. Has a wife of eight years. No kids. Likes to play bingo and hang out at VFWs.

Stay up to date on the federal trial of Kueng, Lane and Thao. Sign up for FOX 9's email newsletter for daily updates. Get breaking news alerts and watch reporter updates in the FOX 9 News app. Download it for Apple or Android

Where is the federal trial taking place? 

The trial is being held at the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown St. Paul.

Earlier this month, crews put up security fencing around the courthouse perimeter. Both Robert Street and Jackson Street between Kellogg Boulevard and 4th Street East until the trial is over, St. Paul Police said.

Can I watch a livestream this trial? 

No. Federal courts do not allow cameras inside the courtroom. Unlike the livestreamed state trials of former police officers Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter, the trial will not be livestreamed. 

The courthouse is closed to the public during the trial, but reporters will take notes and provide updates to the public by watching and observing a live video feed of the trial streamed into an overflow room in the building. A sketch artist will also provide visuals of the trial. 

Follow FOX 9 Reporter Rob Olson on Twitter for live updates throughout the trial.

What are the differences between the state and federal charges? 

The federal trial is taking place before the state trial, and focuses on if the officers violated George Floyd's civil rights under government authority, not so much about if they helped kill him.

Last May, a federal grand jury determined, in private, whether charges should be brought upon the officers. The grand jury alleged that Kueng and Thao were aware Chauvin was using unreasonable force, but "willfully failed to intervene" to stop it. The jury also indicted all three officers for failing to provide medical care to Floyd, resulting in his death. 

Since the three former officers pleaded not guilty to the charges, a trial jury will decide whether they willfully violated Floyd’s civil rights during the May 2020 deadly arrest. 

Additionally, the three former Minneapolis police officers are facing criminal charges in the state of Minnesota for aiding and abetting the murder and manslaughter of George Floyd. That trial for that case is set to begin on June 13. 

Why isn’t Derek Chauvin in this trial? 

Derek Chauvin was charged alongside the former officers for violating George Floyd’s civil rights and would have been in the same trial after a federal judge’s ruling in November 2021. But last month, Chauvin pled guilty in this case, so he will no longer stand trial with the other officers. 

Chauvin is currently serving his 22.5-year sentence for his state convictions, awaiting his sentencing in the federal case. Under the plea deal, Chauvin could be sentenced to 300 months, or 25 years, in prison to be served concurrently with his state sentence. 

EXPLAINER: Will Chauvin testify at trial of 3 other cops?

Death of George Floyd

Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020 after Chauvin pinned him to the ground outside Cup Foods at the intersection of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis and pressed his knee on his neck even as Floyd, who was handcuffed, repeatedly cried out that he could not breathe. Two other Minneapolis police officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, helped restrain Floyd, while a third officer, Tou Thao, held back bystanders and kept them from intervening in the over nine-minute-long restraint.

The death of George Floyd: A timeline of a chaotic, emotional week in Minneapolis

Kueng, Lane and Thao are all charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter for their roles in Floyd’s death. Their state trial will take place in June 2022 after it was delayed to allow a federal case against all four officers, including Chauvin, to go forward. Last spring, a federal grand jury indicted Chauvin, Thao, Kueng and Lane on charges they violated Floyd’s civil rights during his deadly arrest in May 2020.

Floyd’s death sparked conversations about race and policing nationwide. As a result, the Justice Department has launched a sweeping civil investigation into the patterns and practices of the Minneapolis Police Department.