A Minnesota judge ruled Monday that the ex-officer charged with second-degree murder in George Floyd’s death will stand trial alone.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the trial for Derek Chauvin, 44, the police officer accused of putting his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, is scheduled for March 8. The other three cops, Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, will stand trial together for aiding or abetting second-degree murder.
According to WCCO, limitations to physical space due to the coronavirus pandemic influenced Chief Judge Toddrick Barnette’s decision to hold separate trials. Lane, Kueng, and Thao’s trial is scheduled to begin in the summer.
Attorney General Keith Ellison disagreed with Toddrick’s ruling, asserting separate trials may “re-traumatize” eyewitnesses and the victim’s family. He said it also increases the risk of “prejudicing subsequent jury pools,” the news station reported.
On May 25, Minneapolis police officers were filmed arresting Floyd, 46, 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.
All four officers were fired in light of Floyd’s death.
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[Featured image: Derek Chauvin/Hennepin County Jail]