Minneapolis, MN – A judge ruled Thursday morning that all four Minneapolis police officers charged in connection with the death of 46-year-old George Floyd will be tried together in Hennepin County.
Defense attorneys for former Minneapolis Police Officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng had argued that their clients’ trials should be separated from that of former Officer Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The lawyers for the other three former officers charged in connection with Floyd’s death wanted Chauvin to go to trial first and have argued that if he is not convicted, the charges against all three other officers should not stand.
But on Nov. 5, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled against separating the former officers’ trials and said it was too complicated, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Cahill said holding the trials together would “ensure that the jury understands… all of the evidence and the complete picture of Floyd’s death.”
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd as he was being arrested by the four officers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Thao, Lane, and Kueng are facing charges for aiding and abetting Chauvin in Floyd’s death.
If convicted, those former officers – two of whom were rookies in their first week on patrol and still in training – could each face up to 40 years in prison.
The judge also preliminarily denied the defense attorneys’ request for a change of venue for the trial, WCCO reported.
Lawyers for all four former officers have made motions to have the trial moved out of Hennepin County where Floyd died.
Outrage over Floyd’s death sparked riots that spread across the entire country and led to violent looting and burning in many cities.
Defense attorneys have argued that pretrial publicity and the incredible devastation to Minneapolis and the nearby state capital of St. Paul would make it impossible for their clients to have a fair trial, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
They pointed to what happened at their Sept. 11 hearing when a massive crowd of protesters outside the courthouse could be clearly heard inside the courtroom.
Lawyers for the accused officers have said witnesses might be intimidated and jurors could be influenced by the chaos happening outside within earshot.
But Cahill refused to grant the change of venue but said he would rehear arguments on the matter at a future date “subsequent to the presentation of additional evidence and briefs on the issue,” WCCO reported.
In October, Cahill allowed Chauvin to move out of state on Oct. 7 when he was finally able to make the $1 million bond required for his release under strict restrictions, citing safety concerns if the former officer remained in the area.
The judge had previously said that he didn’t want to sequester the jury, but on Nov. 5, he ruled the jurors would be partially sequestered during trial and completely sequestered during deliberations, WCCO reported.
Cahill also ruled that the names of the jurors would be kept confidential.
The judge also said Thursday that he will allow audio and video coverage of the trial of the officers charged in the death of Floyd, WCCO reported.
The officers had responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that Floyd had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli on May 25.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Viral cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.
He was arrested and charged with Floyd’s murder on May 29.