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State trial for 3 officers charged in George Floyd’s death delayed until 2022 due to publicity, pending federal case

On Thursday, a Minnesota judge delayed a joint trial for three former police officers charged in George Floyd’s death until next year, citing various concerns.

According to the Associated Press, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill moved the state trial for Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, from August 23, 2021, to March 2022 to allow publicity surrounding Derek Chauvin’s case to subside and to give priority to the federal trial involving the three ex-Minneapolis police officers.

On the state level, Kueng, Thao, and Lane are charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin, whose sentencing is scheduled for June 25. On April 20, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter.

Last week, a federal grand jury indicted Lane, Chauvin, Kueng, and Thao on charges that they violated Floyd’s civil rights. Chauvin was also charged with violating the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy he allegedly struck with a flashlight, held by the throat, and knelt on for 17 minutes during a 2017 arrest.

According to the Associated Press, Kueng, Thao, and Lane’s attorneys agreed with the postponement. The prosecution did not.

During Thursday’s hearing, the officers’ attorneys claimed prosecutors leaked information about a possible plea deal with Chauvin that would taint the jury pool. According to Reuters, lawyers also alleged that Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker was coerced into saying that Floyd died of asphyxiation as a high-profile medical examiner planned to publicly challenge his initial findings.

State Attorney General Keith Ellison and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank have denied allegations that they leaked information to the media.

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[Featured image: J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao/Hennepin County jail]