MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The former Minneapolis Police officers in the George Floyd case could soon face federal criminal civil rights charges. Sources tell WCCO the charges could come as soon as next week. The penalty for a civil rights conviction could be even more severe than the one Derek Chauvin now faces following his conviction on murder charges.

As prosecutors and defense attorneys prepared for the six-and-a-half-week trial that unfolded in state court over Floyd’s death, a separate investigation continued to unfold at the federal level.

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During the state trial, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker said he had been questioned by federal prosecutors twice.

Sources say in addition to the Floyd case the federal grand jury is looking into whether Chauvin could face federal charges in a second case.

The grand jury heard evidence of a September 2017 incident involving a 14-year-old boy in which Chauvin allegedly had his knee on the boys back for 17 minutes.

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The penalty under the federal statute can be life in prison.

“What is basically boils down to, if someone is acting under color of law, a police officer, and they use excessive force and deprive someone of their civil rights, and it is your civil right to live and they had the specific intent of violating the law, they can be found guilty,” attorney Joe Tamburino said.

The state case usually plays out first and if there are federal civil rights charges they come later. In this case federal civil rights charges are expected before the Aug. 23 trial date for the three other officers in state court. In the state case, the three former officers have plead not guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting manslaughter.

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If the government brings charges it means a separate federal trial for Chauvin and the other officers.

Esme Murphy