In May, Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were hit with federal civil rights charges tied to the murder of George Floyd. Three months later, Kueng, Lane and Thao are asking legal officials to provide the trio with a trial that is separate from Chauvin's. Attorneys representing the three men accused of aiding and abetting Floyd's murder have claimed that jurors won't be able to separate Chauvin's conduct from the conduct of his former colleagues.
“The jurors will not be able to follow the Court’s instructions and compartmentalize the evidence as it related to Mr. Kueng,” Kueng's attorney, Tom Plunkett, argued.
“The jury will have insurmountable difficulty distinguishing the alleged acts of each defendant from the alleged acts of his co-defendants. Mr. Thao will obtain a fair and more impartial trial if he is tried separately from his co-defendants,” Thao's attorney, Bob Paule, added.
There is a precedent for this legal maneuver. Chauvin, Thao, Kueng and Lane were originally scheduled to be tried for Floyd's murder in a singular legal proceeding. However, Thao, Kueng and Lane's attorneys successfully argued that it would be difficult to obtain a fair trial if all four officers were tried together. As a result, Chauvin was tried and convicted of murder in April. Meanwhile, Kueng, Lane and Thao are not expected to stand trial until March 2022. At the state level, each officer has been charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. At the federal level, prosecutors alleged Kueng, Lane and Thao "willfully failed to aid Floyd" as he called out for medical attention. In addition, Chauvin has been hit with federal charges tied to a 2017 incident involving the alleged assault of a 14-year-old boy. Federal prosecutors have not set a trial date for any of the four former officers involved.