Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police Officer charged in the death of George Floyd, will stand trial for his murder separate from other officers in March, Hennepin County Court Judge Peter Cahill ruled Tuesday.
Cahill ruled to separate the prosecutions of the officers due to COVID-19 safety concerns and the limited physical space in his courtroom, the Associated Press reported. Cahill declined to delay future trials due to COVID-19 vaccine distribution issues, stating “the Court is not so optimistic given news reports detailing problems with the vaccine rollout.”
Prosecutors had asked Cahill to postpone the case, scheduled for March 8, until later the summer due to COVID-19 safety concerns. They also argued that all officers arrested should be tried together, due to their individual contributions to Floyd’s and the similar nature of the evidence the state has compiled against each defendant, according to the AP.
Defense counsel for the officers argued that each officer should be tried separately, the AP reported.
Chauvin was arrested back in May of last year for putting his knee on the neck of African American Minneapolis native George Floyd during a routine arrest, which led to his death.
A former Minneapolis police officer who held his knee to the neck of George Floyd for several minutes will be tried separately from three other former officers accused in his death. https://t.co/XHcORLfA8q
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 12, 2021
Floyd was resisting arrest for trying to pass off counterfeit currency at a local store, body-cam footage released by the Daily Mail showed. In the process of the arrest, Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground by wedging his knee into Floyd’s neck. Cell phone footage of the incident captured by civilians on the scene showed Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes, during which time Floyd went unconscious and later died.
Chauvin was arrested with three other responding officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and Alexander Kueng. Floyd’s death sparked national outrage, which led to rioting and record Black Lives Matter protests over this past summer.
The remaining officers are scheduled to stand trial for their roles in the death of George Floyd starting in August.
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