MINNEAPOLIS — A judge on Thursday declined to move the location of the trial for the former Minneapolis police officers charged in connection with the death of George Floyd, and ruled that they will be tried in a single proceeding.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled after defense attorneys had argued that pretrial publicity had made it impossible for the four men to get a fair trial. They had also cited a Sept. 11 hearing in which the men and their attorneys were confronted by angry protesters outside the courthouse, saying it showed that holding the proceeding in the same area where Floyd died would be unsafe for participants, Fox News reported.
Defense lawyers had argued that witnesses could be intimidated, and jurors could be affected by chants from a crowd outside. Moving the trial away from Minneapolis to less diverse areas of the state likely would have affected the makeup of the jury.
Cahill said he would revisit the ruling if needed.
Defense attorneys had also argued that the men should face separate trials, as each officer tried to diminish their own role in Floyd’s arrest by pointing fingers at the other. But Cahill rejected that too, saying the complications of separate trials were too great and that trying the officers together would “ensure that the jury understands … all of the evidence and the complete picture of Floyd’s death.”
Derek Chauvin is charged with unintentional second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other former officers who were at the scene — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, and Tou Thao — are charged with aiding and abetting.
All four officers were fired. They are scheduled to stand trial in March.