Minneapolis, MN – A Minnesota judge ruled on Tuesday that the trial of the three former Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting in George Floyd’s murder will not be livestreamed the way the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was last year.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said on April 26 that he had only allowed the trial of Chauvin, who was convicted of Floyd’s murder on April 20, 2021, to be livestreamed because of the pandemic, the Associated Press reported.
At the time, social distancing requirements precluded members of the media from being inside the courtroom during Chauvin’s trial.
But on April 26, Cahill said the pandemic had receded to the point where it wasn’t necessary to livestream the proceedings over the objections of former Minneapolis Police Officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors and a coalition of media organizations argued that the continued intense public interest in the case justified having it livestreamed.
They also argued that given the potential resurgence of the pandemic it was a good idea to run the trials of Thao, Lane, and Kueng in the same manner the Chauvin trial had been conducted, the Associated Press reported.
The judge wrote in his ruling that the “unusual and compelling circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic” when Chauvin went to trial have substantially abated, the Associated Press reported.
He said the court system’s social distancing rules that were in force during the Chauvin trial had been lifted so he was bound by normal Minnesota court rules.
Minnesota court rules allow cameras during most of a trial but only if all parties have consented to the live coverage, the Associated Press reported.
Opening statements in the trial of Thao, Lane, and Kueng are scheduled to start on July 5.
Cahill has said he expects the trial to last four-to-five weeks, the Associated Press reported.
The trial of the other three officers was initially scheduled for last summer, but was postponed after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) brought charges against Chauvin, Thao, Lane, and Kueng.
Chauvin, who has already been convicted of Floyd’s murder in state court, pleaded guilty to federal charges under a plea agreement on Dec. 15, 2021 in order to avoid another lengthy and expensive trial.
On Feb. 24, a federal jury in Minnesota found Thao, Lane, and Kueng guilty on all counts of depriving Floyd of his rights under color of law.
Thao, a nine-year veteran of the police force when the incident occurred, was convicted of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law for failing to intervene and depriving Floyd of medical care, CBS News reported.
Kueng was also convicted of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law for failing to intervene and depriving Floyd of medical care.
Lane was convicted on one count for depriving Floyd of medical care, according to CBS News.
Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020 after officers responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that he had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.
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.
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.