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Judge warns of possible move of trial in George Floyd death

(Left to right) Derek Chauvin, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao
(Left to right) Derek Chauvin, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao

A Minnesota judge is warning 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 continue speaking out about the case.

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 2:19 PM

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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Hennepin12456787
Ramsey4911228
Dakota238291
Stearns237119
Anoka2241109
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Washington111440
Mower9522
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Sherburne3175
Lyon3162
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Steele2311
Benton2173
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Mahnomen91
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Hubbard70
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Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 31670

Reported Deaths: 722
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6638179
Woodbury325244
Black Hawk230158
Buena Vista171411
Johnson13148
Linn129482
Dallas128029
Marshall104919
Scott81510
Story7793
Pottawattamie73612
Wapello70830
Dubuque70222
Crawford6772
Muscatine64344
Sioux4770
Tama46529
Wright3861
Louisa36213
Jasper32517
Plymouth3225
Warren2901
Dickinson2663
Washington2439
Webster2292
Hamilton1891
Cerro Gordo1821
Boone1481
Clay1340
Clarke1322
Allamakee1314
Mahaska11617
Shelby1140
Clinton1121
Poweshiek1068
Carroll991
Pocahontas971
Bremer946
Des Moines922
Franklin900
Emmet880
Henry863
Cedar841
Taylor790
Hardin770
Monona770
Cherokee751
Floyd732
Marion700
Benton691
Guthrie664
Jefferson640
Sac640
Osceola620
Jones610
Butler572
Buchanan551
Humboldt551
Hancock540
Harrison540
Lee542
Calhoun532
Iowa530
Delaware511
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Monroe516
Madison482
Clayton443
Lyon440
Davis411
Palo Alto410
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Winneshiek390
Grundy380
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Lucas314
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Winnebago290
Ida240
Cass230
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