Judge orders one trial for four ex-cops charged in George Floyd's killing, keeps case in Minneapolis

A Minneapolis judge on Thursday rejected a defense request for a change of venue in the trial of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Fl...

Posted: Nov 5, 2020 10:13 AM
Updated: Nov 5, 2020 1:00 PM

A Minneapolis judge on Thursday rejected a defense request for a change of venue in the trial of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd's death.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill also ruled the ex-cops will be tried at the same time in the county on March 8 for charges stemming from a death that was caught on video and became part of a rally cry for police brutality around the country.

Defense lawyers argued that publicity surrounding the high-profile case would prevent the officers from getting a fair trial and they raised safety concerns for the defendants and potential witnesses.

Cahill declined to move the trial but said he would reconsider a move if needed. He ruled that holding a single proceeding for the four officers would ensure that jurors understand 'all of the evidence and the complete picture of Floyd's death.'

'And it would allow this community, this State, and the nation to absorb the verdicts for the four Defendants at once,' Cahill wrote in his ruling.

The judge granted a defense request to allow cameras in the courtroom. The identities of the jurors will not be divulged publicly and the panel will be partially sequestered, according to court documents.

The jury will be fully sequestered during deliberations.

'The murder of George Floyd occurred in Minneapolis and it is right that the defendants should be tried in Minneapolis,' Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement Thursday. 'It is also true that they acted in concert with each other and the evidence against them is similar, so it is right to try them in one trial.'

Floyd family attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, in a statement, praised Thursday's rulings.

'Trying these officers together will give the jury a complete picture of what happened on the day that George was murdered,' the statement said. 'Each of these men played a role that ultimately led to his death -- whether it was a knee to the neck or denying any intervention as George and onlookers begged for his life.'

The attorneys also said, 'The White officers involved in the death of George Floyd should rightly face a jury of their peers in the city where this tragedy took place.'

Former officer Derek Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's May 25 death.

Videos of the incident show Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd told Chauvin and three other officers that he couldn't breathe.

Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd, and Tou Thao, who stood near the others, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, declined comment Thursday morning.

CNN has also sought comment from the attorneys for Thao and Lane.

Kueng's attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said in a statement, 'We are continuing to review the Court's orders. My goal is to assure that a fair trial occurs for Mr. Kueng. We are happy to have the orders so we can start preparing for our trial and presenting the truth in front of a jury.'

Chauvin last month was allowed to live in a neighboring state due to safety concerns stemming from his involvement in the Floyd's death.

He posted $1 million bail and was released from custody. He was allowed to leave the state while he awaits trial, according to court records. As part of the order, he must keep his cell phone on him at all times.

The Minnesota Department of Corrections has evidence 'supporting safety concerns that have arisen' in his conditional release supervision, according a court order filed.

Chauvin, Kueng, Lane and Thao have been fired.

Floyd's death sparked massive, ongoing protests around the country.

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