MN judge warns of possible move of trial in George Floyd death

National News

This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by him and the other Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Kueng, Lane and Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin. (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota judge on Monday warned that he’s likely to move the trials of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death out of Minneapolis if public officials and attorneys don’t stop talking about the case.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill stopped short of issuing a gag order on attorneys, but he said one is likely if public statements continue. Cahill added that such a situation would also make him likely to grant a change-of-venue motion if one is filed.

“The court is not going to be happy about hearing about the case in three areas: media, evidence and guilt or innocence,” Cahill said.

It was the second pretrial hearing for the officers, who were fired after Floyd’s May 25 death. Derek Chauvin, 44, is charged with second-degree murder and other counts, while Thomas Lane, 37, J. Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, are charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin.

Floyd died after Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee against the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man’s neck for nearly eight minutes. The officers were responding to a call about a man trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby store.

Floyd’s death was universally condemned in Minnesota, with elected officials including Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey calling for the officers to be charged. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Floyd’s death was “murder.”

Cahill asked Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank to use his influence to keep public officials silent, warning that if they continued to discuss it publicly, he likely would “have to pull (trials) out of Hennepin County and they need to be aware of that.”

Cahill set a March 8 trial date for the former officers if they are tried together, though he said he expects motions to be filed to separate their trials. The next court date is Sept. 11.

The defendants have not entered pleas. Chauvin’s attorney has not commented publicly on the charges, while Lane’s and Kueng’s attorneys have sought to minimize their clients’ roles and deflect blame to the more senior Chauvin in Floyd’s death, which sparked protests around the world against police brutality.

Chauvin remains in custody on $1 million bail and Thao is being held on $750,000 bail. Lane and Kueng are free on bond.

Cahill also rejected a defense request to reconsider his earlier decision to allow cameras in the courtroom during pretrial proceedings. Defense attorneys asked to allow such coverage, but prosecutors objected. The judge has not ruled on whether to allow cameras for the trial itself, which in Minnesota usually requires the consent of all parties.

Kueng’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, was the attorney asking Cahill to reconsider his ruling on cameras. He asserted that prosecutors and other officials forfeited their right to object to cameras in the courtroom by making public comments that went as far as “saying the defendants are guilty of murder.” He said allowing electronic coverage of pretrial proceedings would actually make it easier to impanel a fair jury by helping to “educate the public that there may be more to the cases than what has been told to them by the state.”

The charges against Chauvin are unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Second-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, third-degree murder carries up to 25 years and manslaughter up to 10.

The other three former officers are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Those charges are legally tantamount to the counts against Chauvin and carry the same penalties.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Stories

More Local News

Recent Videos

Golf Talk

Thumbnail for the video titled "Golf Talk"

Roller Rink Night

Thumbnail for the video titled "Roller Rink Night"

Ride Along with New K9

Thumbnail for the video titled "Ride Along with New K9"

Donating his Pay Raise

Thumbnail for the video titled "Donating his Pay Raise"

Smokey the Bear

Thumbnail for the video titled "Smokey the Bear"

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 - KX Storm Team Evening Forecast - Dave Holder

Thumbnail for the video titled "Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 - KX Storm Team Evening Forecast - Dave Holder"

Hazen Astros Baseball

Thumbnail for the video titled "Hazen Astros Baseball"

Minot Metros Baseball

Thumbnail for the video titled "Minot Metros Baseball"

Bismarck Senators Baseball

Thumbnail for the video titled "Bismarck Senators Baseball"

Dr. Wynne on what's to come

Thumbnail for the video titled "Dr. Wynne on what's to come"

Watford City Tornado Shelters

Thumbnail for the video titled "Watford City Tornado Shelters"

Food Pantry

Thumbnail for the video titled "Food Pantry"

New App for Sobriety

Thumbnail for the video titled "New App for Sobriety"

Corn Rootworm

Thumbnail for the video titled "Corn Rootworm"

Isaak Motion Hearing

Thumbnail for the video titled "Isaak Motion Hearing"

How to tell if you're suffering from a heat related illness

Thumbnail for the video titled "How to tell if you're suffering from a heat related illness"

Bismarck Shooting

Thumbnail for the video titled "Bismarck Shooting"

Amber's Wednesday Morning #OneMinuteForecast 7/1

Thumbnail for the video titled "Amber's Wednesday Morning #OneMinuteForecast 7/1"

Wednesday's Forecast: Mostly sunny & warmer

Thumbnail for the video titled "Wednesday's Forecast: Mostly sunny & warmer"

Babe Ruth Baseball

Thumbnail for the video titled "Babe Ruth Baseball"
More Video

KX News Trending Stories

Don't Miss