Trial postponed for three ex-Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death
(MINNEAPOLIS) — The state trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd is being delayed until March 2022, Judge Peter Cahill said Thursday.
The former officers — Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng — have been charged by the state with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter for their alleged roles in Floyd’s May 25 death.
A federal grand jury has also indicted the three officers, as well as former officer Derek Chauvin, with federal civil rights crimes related to the killing. The federal trial for Lane, Thao, Kueng and Chauvin will consider a three-count indictment that accuses all four defendants of “willfully depriving” Floyd of his constitutional rights and failing to give aid to Floyd. The indictment also states that Thao and Kueng “willfully failed to intervene” in Chauvin’s use of force.
Chauvin was convicted last month of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
Cahill said he pushed the date back so the federal case can move forward, and the state trial can be distanced from the publicity surrounding Chauvin’s murder conviction.
All three of the former officers waived their right to appear at the pre-trial motions hearing Thursday.
At the hearing, defense attorneys requested that prosecutors be sanctioned for media leaks in February that claimed Chauvin initially planned on pleading guilty to third-degree murder. The potential plea deal discussed in the media reports was reportedly nixed by then-Attorney General William Barr.
The defendants’ attorneys want prosecutors to submit affidavits under oath that proclaim they weren’t responsible for the media leaks. Thao’s attorney Bob Paule claimed the leaks came from the state and that anyone involved should be barred from working on the trial. Kueng’s attorney Tom Plunkett supported the motion.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank called the allegations “bizarre” and “false” in a court filing and said that the prosecution will soon file a complete response to the allegations.
Cahill said in court he believes the leak came from the Department of Justice and not the state prosecution team, but he asked the prosecution to provide affidavits and proof that they were not the source of the leak.
There will be a hearing on that motion in August.
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