On Friday, a judge upheld his decision to livestream the trial of the four officers charged in George Floyd’s May killing, citing widespread interest surrounding the case.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill rejected prosecutors’ claims that livestreaming the high-profile trial may deter possible witnesses from coming forward. Cahill initially approved broadcasting the trial on November 4, but he upheld his ruling last week amid pushback from Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“The only real issue then, is whether there is a reasonable alternative to televising the trial that would vindicate the defendants’ Sixth Amendment rights and the First Amendment rights of the public and the press…The Court concludes that televising the trial is the only reasonable and meaningful method to safeguard the Sixth and First Amendment rights implicated in these cases,” the judge wrote.
Derek Chauvin, 44, is facing second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in connection with Floyd’s death. Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, are charged with aiding or abetting second-degree murder. All four Minneapolis police officers were fired in light of Floyd’s death.
On May 25, Minneapolis police officers were filmed arresting Floyd, 46, a Black man, on suspicion that he used a counterfeit bill at the Cup Foods supermarket.
After police pulled Floyd out of his car and handcuffed him, Chauvin was filmed forcing his knee into Floyd’s neck for eight minutes. Floyd was heard gasping for air and saying he could not breathe before he lost consciousness and died.
While Hennepin County’s autopsy report stated that there was no evidence “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” an independent autopsy asserted that sustained forceful pressure on Floyd’s neck and back led to his death.
Several media outlets and organizations, including the Star Tribune, Associated Press, Court TV, and The New York Times Company, were behind the push to have the officers’ trial livestreamed.
All four officers will stand trial together. Court proceedings are expected to begin in March.
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[Featured image: Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng, Tuo Thao/Hennepin County Jail]