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Jury deliberating federal civil rights case of 3 ex-Minneapolis officers in George Floyd’s death

The jury's closed-door discussions began shortly before 10 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. Lunch was provided to them in the deliberation room so they were able to work without a break. The 12-person, all-white panel was expected to return for more discussions at 9 a.m. Thursday.

STPAULCOURTROOMSKETCH
In a courtroom sketch from the opening of the trial, three former Minneapolis police officers -- Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane -- are shown with their attorneys. The three men face federal Justice Department charges of abusing their position as police officers to deprive George Floyd of his constitutional rights when another officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes in May 2020.
Cedric Hohnstadt illustration via Reuters
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ST. PAUL -- Jurors completed a day of deliberations without reaching a verdict Wednesday in the federal case against three former Minneapolis officers accused of helping Derek Chauvin by depriving George Floyd of his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizure.

The 12-person jury is deliberating charges against J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Kueng and Thao are accused of failing to intervene on Floyd's behalf to stop the illegal restraint. All three officers are charged with failing to provide Floyd medical aid as his condition deteriorated.

The jury's closed-door discussions began shortly before 10 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. Lunch was provided to them in the deliberation room so they were able to work without a break. The 12-person, all-white panel was expected to return for more discussions at 9 a.m. Thursday.

To reach a verdict, the jurors all must agree on whether to convict or acquit the officers in the case that drew global attention.

Floyd died in police custody on May 25, 2020, on the street outside Cup Foods in South Minneapolis after a clerk called 911 to report him for using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.

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Chauvin, who was captured on bystander video kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than 9 minutes, pleaded guilty in December to federal civil rights violations in his death. Chauvin also was convicted of murder in Hennepin County District Court in April and is serving a state sentence of more than 22 years.

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From left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.
Courtesy photos / Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Opening statements in the federal trial of his three former colleagues came on Jan. 24. Closing arguments were given Tuesday with Judge Paul Magnuson reading jury instructions Wednesday morning before sending the jurors to deliberate.

All three took the stand in their own defense, saying they didn't realize Floyd's condition was so dire and that they either trusted Chauvin to do the right thing or deferred to him because he was a 19-year veteran.

Thao is the officer who kept bystanders back on the sidewalk. Kueng held Floyd's mid-section while Lane held his legs. Lane and Kueng were first to approach Floyd in his vehicle outside the store that day. Chauvin and Thao showed up minutes later as Lane and Kueng struggled to get Floyd in the back of a squad vehicle.

In his instructions, Magnuson told jurors they must view the evidence in light of what a "reasonable officer at the scene" would have done "without the benefit of 20-20 hindsight."

He told them they must consider whether the decision to use force on Floyd was reasonable under circumstances that were tense and rapidly evolving.

It violates the Constitution for a police officer to fail to intervene if he had knowledge of the force and an ability to do so, Magnuson said.

On each count, if the jurors find the officers guilty, they must answer a second question: did the officers' actions cause Floyd's death? If jurors find the former officers guilty and that their actions caused Floyd's death, that would allow the judge to give them longer sentences.

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The jurors come from throughout the state. Eight are women and four are men. Two each are from Hennepin, Ramsey and Olmsted counties. One juror each is from the following counties: Anoka, Blue Earth, Washington, Jackson, Nicollet and Scott.

Not much will be known about the jurors even after the trial concludes. Magnuson signed an order Wednesday sealing their identities for 10 years.

©2022 StarTribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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