The former officers who’ve been charged in George Floyd‘s death were met by an angry crowd of protestors following their Friday court appearance in Minneapolis.
According to KTSP, defendants Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, and Tou Thao appeared at a pre-trial hearing at a Hennepin County courthouse. The hearing took place more than three months after Floyd’s police killing, which reignited worldwide demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality. Footage of the deadly incident showed Floyd facedown on the pavement as Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Kueng and Lane were seen pinning down Floyd’s back and legs, respectively, while Thao stood to the side attempting to keep the crowd of bystanders at bay.
During the video, Floyd is heard repeatedly telling the officers he couldn’t breathe. His body became motionless moments later. The 46-year-old father was then transported to Hennepin County Medical Center emergency room where he was pronounced dead.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. Lane, Kueng, and Tou Thao were each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Judge Peter Cahill addressed a number of issues during Friday’s hearing, including questions surrounding jury selection, the possibility of holding the trial in a venue outside of Minneapolis, the potential for extended sentences, and the prosecution’s request to conduct a joint trial. The attorneys argued that separate trials are unnecessary because the evidence and charges are so similar. They also say a joint trial would save time and a lot of anguish for Floyd’s family and the community.
The defendants’ attorneys have pushed for separate trials, claiming some evidence can help one defendant and simultaneously hurt another. Attorneys have also expressed concern that a joint trial would cause the former officers to place the blame on one another, which means their respective cases would require a different burden of proof.
Cahill said he will take most of the issues under consideration. He did, however, grant the defense’s request to remove Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman from the case. The judge determined Freeman and other county prosecutors were disqualified because they had discussed Floyd’s autopsy results with the medical examiner. Cahill said those prosecutors could be called as witnesses.