Trial postponed for three US ex-police charged in Floyd death

White ex-officer Derek Chauvin, 45, was convicted in April of murdering African American George Floyd last year in a case that prompted a national reckoning on racial injustice and police brutality.

Demonstrators march through downtown on 9 April 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. People demanding justice for George Floyd gathered tonight outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been ongoing for the past two weeks. Picture: Stephen Maturen/AFP

WASHINGTON - A US judge on Thursday postponed the trial of three former Minneapolis policemen charged in the killing of George Floyd to March 2022 in order to let a federal prosecution against them go ahead first.

White ex-officer Derek Chauvin, 45, was convicted in April of murdering African American Floyd last year in a case that prompted a national reckoning on racial injustice and police brutality.

A video taken by a bystander showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes as he was handcuffed facedown on the street struggling to breathe.

Chauvin's three former co-workers - Tou Thao, 35, J. Alexander Kueng, 27, and Thomas Lane, 38 - who were involved in Floyd's fatal arrest, were to go on trial starting August 22 for being complicit in murder.

But a federal grand jury last week charged all four men with civil rights crimes in connection with Floyd's killing.

The federal indictment accuses the former officers of, among other charges, depriving Floyd of his constitutional right "to be free from the use of unreasonable force" by police.

At a procedural hearing Thursday, Judge Peter Cahill said that the federal charges were "much greater" and it made "more sense for the federal case to go forward" first.

As a result, he postponed the start of the three former officers' trial to 7 March 2022.

Dual prosecutions at both the state and federal level are permitted in the United States but are relatively rare, highlighting the importance of this case, which sparked a massive wave of national demonstrations last summer.

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