The federal civil rights trial against three former Minneapolis police officers was postponed until Monday after one of the officers tested positive for COVID-19.
Just as court was to start Wednesday, Judge Paul Magnuson announced that one of the defendants had tested positive for COVID-19. There was no official confirmation of which defendant had the virus, but pool reports from the courtroom said both J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were seen this morning and Thomas Lane was not.
It's not the first time a COVID-19 diagnosis has interrupted a federal trial in Minnesota. In 2020, a juror tested positive with the virus in the middle of proceedings for a man who orchestrated the bombing of Bloomington's Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in 2017. Judge Donovan Frank suspended the trial for two weeks to allow the juror to isolate.
Wednesday was to be the eighth day of federal trial. All three former officers face a federal charge of failing to provide medical aid to George Floyd as he was handcuffed and face down under the knee of former officer Derek Chauvin. Thao and Kueng also face a second charge of failing to intervene and stop Chauvin from using unreasonable force on Floyd.
Attorney Earl Gray, who represents Lane, declined to say whether his client had tested positive for the virus.
Floyd died May 25, 2020, in police custody outside Cup Foods in south Minneapolis after a store clerk called to report a customer passing a suspected fake $20 bill. Kueng and Lane were first on the scene, then Chauvin and Thao arrived.
Chauvin is the officer seen on bystander video kneeling on Floyd's neck. He already was convicted of murder in state court last year and pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge last month. Thao held the angry crowd back. Kueng was holding down Floyd's mid-section and Lane was at his feet.
Lane is the officer heard asking Chauvin multiple times whether to roll Floyd into the side position so he could breathe. Chauvin declined.