A district judge on Thursday ruled that there will be one trial for all four former Minneapolis police officers charged in connection to the death of George Floyd, and that the trial will stay in the city.
The ruling came after defense attorneys filed a motion to move the trial away from Minneapolis. They argued that defense witnesses may be hesitant to testify knowing that they might be subject to “rioting, assaults, and dox attacks,” citing alleged physical harassment and assault on one of the former officers and his attorney by an unruly crowd outside Hennepin County Courthouse. They also requested that their clients be tried separately, so that evidence against one officer wouldn’t affect another’s right to a fair trial.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill denied the motion to change the venue, but said he will revisit that decision if necessary, according to The Associated Press.
Cahill also ruled that all four former officers will stand trial together, saying the complications of separate trials were too great and that trying the officers together would “ensure that the jury understands … all of the evidence and the complete picture of Floyd’s death.”
In October, Cahill dropped a third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin, the former officer who appeared in a video pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck during an arrest. Chauvin still faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death, an incident that sparked violent protests and riots across the nation in the following months.
Chauvin, who was released on a $1 million bond in October, would face up to 40 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.
Three other former officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
In a June report (pdf), Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office found Floyd had a fatal level of fentanyl in his system, but listed the man’s cause of death as “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” with his manner of death listed as homicide.
Earl Gray, the attorney for former officer Lane, alleged that Floyd had contributed to his own death by consuming a lethal dose of fentanyl.
“All he had to do is sit in the police car, like every other defendant who is initially arrested. While attempting to avoid his arrest, all by himself, Mr. Floyd overdosed on fentanyl,” Gray wrote in a court filing, reported Fox News 9. “Given his intoxication level, breathing would have been difficult at best. Mr. Floyd’s intentional failure to obey commands, coupled with his overdosing, contributed to his own death.”