A Minneapolis judge set March 8, 2021 as the possible date for the trial of the four involved in the George Floyd murder to begin, but threatened to change it if the parties continue to speak to the press about the case that reopened racial wounds in the United States. .
Therefore, the date can be revised as the procedures and the presentation of evidence progress.
“I would like to ask that pre-trial publicity not include statements by the parties’ families, their friends or elected officials,” Judge Peter Cahill said during a hearing in Minneapolis, northern United States.
Wearing orange jumpsuits from American inmates and his face covered in a mask, former police officer Derek Chauvin introduced himself by video from the maximum security prison where he was detained last month.
This 44-year-old white man is charged with murder for asphyxiating Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by pressing his knee over his neck for several minutes.
His three former colleagues, Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, accused of complicity in the murder, appeared in person before the judge. The first two were released on $ 750,000 bail and the last remains in prison, but was transferred to court for this hearing.
The four, all fired from the police, could face up to 40 years in prison.
In a document sent after the hearing, Alexander Kueng’s lawyer said his client intended to plead not guilty and argue in his defense that he made “reasonable use of force”.
The four participated in the May 25 detention of Floyd, who was suspected of trying to buy a pack of cigarettes with a fake $ 20 bill in a small store in Minneapolis.
Floyd, a burly man, was handcuffed and lying on the floor, where Chauvin pressed his knee to his neck to keep him still.
“I can’t breathe,” said Floyd several times before losing consciousness. But despite his pleas and pedestrian interventions, Chauvin continued to press Floyd’s neck for nearly 8 minutes, according to the prosecution’s minutes.
– Great public interest – The tragedy, whose images captured by a pedestrian went viral, provoked a wave of unprecedented protests since the massive marches for civil rights in the 1960s, which even transcended American borders.
At the hearing, Chauvin’s lawyer complained that many officials, including the mayor of Minneapolis and even President Donald Trump commented on the case.
“This is a case of great public interest, but if these statements continue, I will ask the courts to prohibit them,” threatened Eric Nelson.
Judge Cahill, who had banned cameras in his office, also expressed interest in the case being heard in court and not by the media. Otherwise, the trial will have to be transferred outside Hennepin County, he said.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank said he joined the call for a “fair trial” and pledged to recommend to the family, elected officials and investigators involved that they refrain from making public comments about it in the future. But “I can’t make them do it,” he admitted.
At the same time, out of court, an uncle of Floyd’s wanted the trial to be held in Minnesota. “I’m not angry with anyone,” Selwyn Jones, who traveled from South Dakota to attend the hearing, told the press.
But for the victim’s uncle, the trial “will not be fair” if it occurs in this state where the black population is a minority.
The next hearing is scheduled for 9/11.