The judge decides that Derek Chauvin, the former policeman who held his knee on Floyd’s neck, will be tried alone.
Derek chauvin the white policeman who held his knee on the neck of George floyd for several minutes will be tried separately from the other three former officers accused of his death, according to the schedule of court orders filed Tuesday.
Chauvin will be tried alone in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, while the other three former officers will be tried together this summer, according to orders filed in Hennepin County District Court.
Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck as he was handcuffed face down on the street in Minneapolis. Police were investigating whether Floyd used a fake $ 20 bill at a nearby store. In a video widely seen on social media, Floyd could be heard pleading with officers for air, claiming he couldn’t breathe.
Floyd’s death sparked protests in Minneapolis and elsewhere and renewed calls for an end to police brutality and racial inequality.
Chauvin is charged with second degree murder and second degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Former officers Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are each charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder, as well as aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter.
Judge Peter Cahill cited the limits of physical space during the coronavirus pandemic for his order to divide the trials of the defendants. It is “impossible to comply with the physical restrictions of COVID-19” given the number of attorneys and support staff who four defendants believe are present, Cahill wrote.
Last week, prosecutors asked Cahill to postpone the trial from March 8 to June 7 to reduce the public health risks associated with COVID-19. In his order on Tuesday, the judge wrote that while the pandemic situation could be greatly improved by June, “the court is not so optimistic given press reports detailing the problems with the vaccine rollout.”
Cahill cited a request from Chief Justice Toddrick Barnette after last week’s hearing to reconsider whether the four defendants are on trial in March over space issues. Barnette wrote that in her opinion the courtroom could accommodate up to three accused at a time.
Defense attorneys had argued last year that the officers should be tried separately as each officer may seek to diminish their own role in Floyd’s arrest and death by pointing fingers at other officers. Prosecutors had opposed the split of the trial, saying the evidence against the four was similar, the officers had acted together, and the public and witnesses should be spared the trauma of multiple trials.
Thao, Kueng and Lane are now due to be tried together from August 23.