St. Paul gears up for federal trial of former Minneapolis police officers

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)

Thursday marks the first day of jury selection in the federal trial of former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane. They’re accused of depriving George Floyd of his constitutional rights under "color of law," or government authority.

Cameras will not be allowed inside the courtroom, and outside, security has been beefed up.

St. Paul Police say during the trial you won’t see the level of law enforcement seen in Minneapolis during the trial of Derek Chauvin. But, there are still precautions in place, including a large fence surrounding the entire Warren E. Burger Federal Building.

"It is very frightening, I’m very fearful," Susan Kenefick said.

She lives across the street from the courthouse, and she’s stressed about what the trial could bring to her front door.

"I tell people that this trial is right next door to where I live and people are like ‘oh my god’," Kenefick said. "Just yesterday they blocked off the street."

Between Kellogg Boulevard and E. 4th Street, Jackson and Robert streets will remain closed off until the end of the trial.

The changes are impacting local businesses.

"Some people are choosing to work from home, businesses are closing down for a little while just taking precautions," Legacy Chocolates owner Chris Huset said.

Criminal defense attorney Mike Bryant, who is not involved in the case, predicts Derek Chauvin will testify against his former colleagues as part of his own plea deal.

"The feds don’t lose lots of cases, when they bring a case they really go after it," Bryant said.

Chauvin has already plead guilty to a federal charges in Floyd’s death.

"The defense is going to be more along the lines of look we weren’t in control of what Chauvin was doing, he was the lead officer," Bryant said.

Whatever happens inside, outside St. Paul police say they’re focused on protecting free speech, people and property, with officers on standby should there be marches or larger gatherings. St. Paul police estimate the heightened security could cost the city up to $2 million.

"People are anxious as far as what’s going to happen," Huset finished.