ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A pretrial hearing was held Tuesday for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with federal civil rights violations in George Floyd’s death.

Last year, a federal grand jury indicted former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao for allegedly depriving Floyd of his rights while acting under government authority on May 25, 2020, as Floyd, 46, was held face-down, handcuffed and not resisting in a restraint that was captured on bystander video. His death led to worldwide protests and calls for change in policing.

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Chauvin has since been found guilty of murder and sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison in a state trial. Then, in December, he pleaded guilty to the federal civil rights charges. Chauvin, wearing an orange jumpsuit, signed a plea agreement and changed his plea to guilty during a hearing in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul. He previously pleaded not guilty in September.

The trial, like all trials in federal court, will not be televised. It was clear from Tuesday’s hearing there will be many of the same witnesses as the Chauvin case, including some of the young teens who witnessed and videotaped Floyd’s death.

While the three are expected to put all the blame on Chauvin, the prosecution will argue that the officers helped Chauvin kill Floyd, thus depriving him of his federal civil rights.

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While Chauvin did not testify in his own trial, many legal experts believe these three defendants will. Defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, says that the public can expect the three officers to testify in the federal trial.

“They have to get out there and say, look, regardless of what Mr. Chauvin did, we weren’t trying to violate anyone’s rights, we weren’t trying to hurt or violate Mr. Floyd’s rights,” Tamburino said.

Already, high fencing has been put up around the Warren E. Burger Federal Building in downtown St. Paul and police are patrolling the area. All other trials have been moved out of the building. The trial of the three officers is slated to start on Jan. 20, beginning with jury selection.

Another difference in this federal civil rights trial is that there will almost certainly be fewer people of color on the jury. That’s because jurors are chosen not just from Hennepin or Ramsey counties but surrounding suburban and outlying counties.

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Judge Paul Magnuson said there will be 12 jurors and six alternate jurors chosen and warned both sides he wants this case to move quickly because of the threat of COVID-19.

Esme Murphy