Ex-Minneapolis officers to be tried separately in George Floyd trial

Derek Chauvin will be tried separately from the other officers implicated in the death with a trial beginning March 8.

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Trial dates have officially been set for the four former officers charged in the murder of George Floyd for two separate times.

Read More: Families of George Floyd, Jacob Blake and Eric Garner speak out: ‘Two systems of justice’

According to the Washington Post, Derek Chauvin will be tried separately from the other three police officers who are being held responsible for the death. The change was made in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Officials proposed concerns that the high-profile trial could become a COVID-19 “super spreader.”

They expect large crowds of both protesters and participants. Prosecutors even requested the trial be held until June when more people would have likely received coronavirus vaccines according to the report.

Derek Chauvin George Floyd thegrio.com
Left to right: Former Minneapolis officers Tou Thao, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane. (Photo: Katie Couric/Instagram | Hennepin County Sheriff)

In a ruling Tuesday, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter A. Cahill made the announcement that Chauvin will go on trial on March 8, the Post reported.  J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane, and Tou Thao will have their time in court on August 23. theGrio reported Judge Cahill stood firm in his decision to allow the trials to be live-streamed and broadcast for the world to see. He cited global interest in the case and the minimal space for on-site viewers in the courtroom.

In previous court filings, all four of the former officers involved have pushed the blame on each other according to the Post, which defense attorneys have argued puts their constitutional right to a fair trial at risk. Judge Cahill disagreed and said the defendant’s defenses “will substantially overlap” and multiple trials would be complex and unnecessary. Later, an email reviewing the logistics hoped the judge consider the amount of attorneys and support staff involved would make social distancing impossible.

Read More: Canadian artist tributes George Floyd with massive snow sculpture

“I am not asking that you delay the trials,” wrote Hennepin County District Court Judge Toddrick Barnette according to the Washington Post.  “I’m only asking that you consider having less than all four defendants stand trial.”

George Floyd's Brother Attends Unveiling Of Memorial Portrait In Brooklyn
George Floyd was killed this past spring while in the custody of police. (Credit: Getty Images)

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, the prosecutor, disagreed with the decision to separate Chauvin’s trial. In a statement he said he “respectfully disagreed” with the court’s decision, suggesting multiple trials “may retraumatize eyewitnesses and family members” and impact the jury pools, according to the Post.

USA Today reported potential jurors have been asked to share their views on Black Lives Matter and their personal experiences with law enforcement. According to the report,  a jury questionnaire asked if the potential juror participated in marches or demonstrations against police brutality after Floyd’s death with the question, “If you participated, did you carry a sign? What did it say?”

Potential jurors were also asked if they had been arrested and how the police handled the situation, if they supported defunding the Minneapolis police and if their community has been negatively or positively affected by any of the protests in the city since Floyd’s death.

Chauvin faces second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter charges. His counterparts are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

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