Four Minneapolis police officers charged with civil rights violations and conspiracy in the shooting death of George Floyd will be tried together.
According to the criminal complaint for Antoine Jones, Kevin Coates, Kevin Yager and Caleb Schafer, federal authorities began investigating the officers just a week after the November 2015 death of Floyd, who was shot twice by police after being found unconscious at the bottom of the basement stairs of a north Minneapolis apartment building. Authorities say Floyd was first confronted by one officer after he appeared to run away from him with a gun. Then, about 15 seconds later, he was shot twice, once in the abdomen and a second time in the back, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.
The investigation became active after the St. Paul, Minnesota, Police Department said Jones, Coates, Yager and Schafer could be potentially connected to Floyd’s death, according to the criminal complaint.
The seven officers, who had been placed on paid administrative leave at the time of the investigation, were charged by prosecutors in July.
The officers denied any involvement in Floyd’s death and maintained their innocence in court documents filed Thursday.
The federal grand jury indictment against the four officers reads, in part, “Jones and the officers approached Floyd while Jones was one of two officers who questioned Floyd. The officers indicated that Floyd ‘did not want to answer any questions.’
“Jones said that when he told Floyd to put his hands on his head, he replied, ‘Don’t touch me,’ and advanced toward Jones. Jones then shot Floyd.”
The indictment goes on to detail Schafer’s participation in the investigation. It reads, in part, “Coates read the complaint, then put his weapon in his holster. Jones then placed his K-9 dog on Coates and brought the dog toward Floyd. Schafer joined Jones in describing the events to Coates. Jones said that he saw Floyd stepping toward the police. Jones said he then fired one shot toward Floyd. Coates then asked Jones if he had shot the suspect. Jones answered no. Jones said that Coates then began checking his gun. Coates then told Jones to put his gun in his holster. Jones then put his gun in his holster.”
The charges stem from an FBI investigation into “unlawful conduct of officers as a result of an unauthorized search and seizure of the apartment” at Hamilton Towers,” according to the Star Tribune.
As part of their investigation, prosecutors said, they spent months interviewing relatives, friends and former neighbors of the officers. Some former neighbors also joined investigators as part of the case.
The defense attorneys for the officers claim that no one knows for sure whether Floyd actually had a gun with him the night he was shot, the Star Tribune reported. Some defense lawyers also have suggested, in past court filings, that authorities were misinterpreting the charges.
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