The federal trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights in a deadly 2020 arrest has been paused until at least next Monday after one of the defendants tested positive for the coronavirus.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson declined to say which of the defendants had tested positive for the virus, which causes COVID-19, and it was unclear whether or not the defendant was exhibiting symptoms.
He announced the pause on Wednesday morning after defendants Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng had arrived, according to notes shared by reporters admitted into the courtroom in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul, where capacity has been sharply limited by COVID-19 precautions. Thomas Lane, the third defendant, was not present, according to reporters.
All three men were involved in the arrest on a Minneapolis street on May 25, 2020, and have been accused of violating Floyd’s rights by failing to stop their colleague Derek Chauvin from kneeling on the dying Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
Cellphone video of Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on the handcuffed Black man’s neck as he begged for his life galvanized one of the largest protest movements seen in the United States.
Chauvin was convicted on state murder charges in April 2021 and changed his plea to the federal civil rights charges to guilty in December. A state judge sentenced him to 22-1/2 years in prison; his sentence may end up extended by a few years when he is sentenced by a federal judge.
His three colleagues have pleaded not guilty to the federal charges, as well as state charges of aiding and abetting murder, for which they face trial in Minneapolis in June.
They say they were not responsible for Chauvin’s conduct, and two of them note they were rookies with only a few days on the job with what they called inadequate training by the Minneapolis Police Department, some of which was being done by Chauvin himself.
A spokeswoman for the federal courts in Minnesota said the defendant would be retested before the trial resumed.