Derek Chauvin's lawyers say his trial is biased as Minneapolis top cop has called George Floyd death a murder
The Hennepin County District Court judge, overseeing the case of former officer Derek Chauvin and others in the death of George Floyd, on Monday, June 29, told local officials and lawyers in the case to be careful about what they say in public. Judge Peter A. Cahill warned that an excessive publicity in the case could make the process of choosing an impartial jury difficult. Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died in police custody on May 25 after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for over 7 minutes.
Judge Cahill's warning came after lawyers for the officers cited "multiple inappropriate public comments" from local officials. The lawyers said that multiple statements have been made in association with their clients, which could prejudice potential jurors. They also referred to the Minneapolis police chief's statement last week, where he called Floyd's death a murder, not failure of the officers' training. The attorneys also provided a countermeasure, arguing for the court proceedings in the case to be publicly broadcast.
Thomas C. Plunkett, a lawyer for one of the officers, in a motion, wrote: "The state’s conduct made a fair and unbiased trial extremely unlikely, and the defendants seek video and audio coverage to let a cleansing light shine on these proceedings."
The presiding judge, in his warning on Monday, also added that he would consider moving the trail of the parties involved in the case leaked any information or offered opinion to news media of innocence or guilt of the defendendents. "From this day forward, everyone has had their warning,” Judge Cahill said, according to the New York Times.
Four Minneapolis police officers allegedly involved in Floyd's brutal death were fired on May 26 after a video of the incident went viral on social media. The footage showed Floyd pleading with officers as one of them, Chauvin, knelt on his neck while the 46-year-old told them to let him stand because he could not breathe. The clip showed Floyd pleading with the officer to allow him to breathe and a few minutes later he became unconscious. Floyd's death has sparked massive protests and unrest in Minneapolis and across the country. Chauvin, within days, was arrested and charged with murder. The arrest of other officers involved followed suit.
The hearing on Monday, which lasted for an hour, was the first time all the four defendants in the case appeared in court on the same day. However, each made their appearances separately. None of the former officers have entered pleas. Among the officers, Chauvin faces the most serious charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Meanwhile, two of the officers are out on bail.
In his first court appearance on June 8, Chauvin's unconditional bail amount was raised to $1.25 million. The former officer made his first court appearance through a video feed, handcuffed, wearing a blue mask and dressed in an orange jumpsuit. The case has garnered an enormous amount of publicity as one defense lawyer said that it was probably the most famous case in Minnesota history.