Judge agrees to move trial of two former Minneapolis officers to October over death of George Floyd | Region

MINNEAPOLIS — Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill moved the trial date from January to Oct. 24 for two former Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd.

Cahill made the decision in a brief remote hearing with attorneys for J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao. The trial was originally scheduled to begin in June, but Cahill recently pushed it back to Jan. 5, citing a preponderance of pretrial publicity that was prejudicial to the defendants.

Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, however, asked Cahill to reconsider the date due to a personal commitment in January. Thao’s attorney, Bob Paule, said in court that he agreed with the October date. In response, however, prosecutors filed a motion, seeking to move the trial to August.

During the 12-minute hearing, Cahill apologized to Plunkett and noted that he forgot the defense attorney had previously told him he had a personal commitment ‘carved in stone’ in January and that he would rather give up his lawyer’s license rather than miss it.

In arguing for the August date, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank spoke of the grief of Floyd’s family and their need for a speedy trial. The lawsuit “hangs over their heads like a dark cloud and really prevents them from grieving and moving on,” Frank said.

He went on to say it was important to remember what the family continues to go through with the video of Floyd’s murder. “They must have watched it over and over again in the media and throughout the trial,” Frank said.

Frank said the video showed how Floyd was initially compliant, sitting on the sidewalk outside Dragon Wok at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue and only became agitated when officers attempted to ‘block’ him in a police car.

But Cahill cut him off, telling Frank, “You’re off topic.”

The judge then agreed to move the trial to late October, saying he was still weighing the federal trial’s need for publicity and former officer Thomas Lane’s guilty plea in May to aiding and abetting the manslaughter guilty to die.

Floyd died on May 25, 2020, while below the knee of Thao’s partner that night, Derek Chauvin.

Thao, Kueng and Lane were found guilty in federal court in February of violating Floyd’s civil rights for their role in his death. They have not yet been sentenced for the convictions.

In state court, Kueng and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Lane accepted a plea deal last month, avoiding a state trial. He accepted a three-year sentence.

Chauvin has pleaded guilty in federal court and is awaiting sentencing for that conviction. He was tried and convicted of murder in state court last year and is currently serving 22½ years in prison.


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Elna M. Lemons