A judge in Minnesota has set a March 8 trial date for the four former police officers accused in the death of George Floyd.
At an omnibus hearing Monday, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said the trial date assumed that the former Minneapolis Police Department officers — Derek Chauvin, 44, who knelt on Floyd’s neck and is charged with second-degree murder; J. Alexander Kueng, 26; Thomas Lane, 37; and Tou Thao, 34 — would be tried together, but he said that he expected motions to be filed by their attorneys for separate trials.
Kueng, Lane and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin, who remains in custody on $1 million bail. Thao is held on $750,000 bail. Lane and Kueng are free on bond.
The four have yet to enter pleas. The judge set Sept. 11 as the next hearing date.
Cahill also warned that he was prepared to move the trials out of Minneapolis if public officials and attorneys didn’t stop speaking publicly about the case.
“The court is not going to be happy about hearing about the case in three areas: media, evidence and guilt or innocence,” Cahill said.
Although he stopped short of issuing a gag order, the judge said it was “in everyone’s best interest” that no public statements be made by family, friends or law enforcement officials. He said such statements were “endangering the right to a fair trial.”
Cahill asked Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank whether prosecutors were addressing the matter with public officials. Frank told the judge: “We have asked people not to talk about this case. … We’ve done our best to make the court’s concerns known to them and will continue to do so.”
In a rare move Friday, defense attorneys for the former officers consented to electronic media coverage of the hearings, saying it would “let a cleansing light shine” on the proceedings, according to Minnesota Public Radio. But in Minnesota, both sides must consent before such hearings can be televised, and prosecutors rejected the idea.
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