The presiding judge in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop captured on video kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until he died last year, has ruled that only one of the victim’s family members can attend the trial proceedings.
The trial for Chauvin, who is facing charges of second-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter, is expected to begin Monday reports NBC.
In his order outlining the schedule and other procedures for the trial, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill specified that the families of both Chauvin and Floyd will be restricted to having one member at a time in the courtroom. He added that the family members can be rotated out as long as they have the appropriate credentials to do so. Other rules outlined by the judge include a requirement for court attendees to maintain 6-feet of social distancing and wear masks during the trial.
Still, the stipulation on how many people can attend the trial at a time will likely have an especially rough impact on the family of Floyd—who had to contend with seeing the 46-year-old’s final moments, gasping for breath while under the knee of Chauvin for more than eight minutes, playing out in a viral video. Sitting alone in the courtroom as details of his death are further probed cannot be an easy endeavor.
In a statement responding to the judge’s order, Ben Crump, an attorney representing the Floyd family, said, “After a deeply painful and emotional year, the Floyd family is understandably disappointed by this ruling.
“The family is looking forward to the start of the Derek Chauvin trial as a critical milestone on the path to justice and a step toward closure in this dark chapter of their lives,” Crump added.
Chauvin’s attorneys have not made a comment on the order, but the former police officer’s family has been notably silent since his name became nationally known—outside of his ex-wife who shared that her sympathy lies with the Floyd family, when she filed for divorce from Chauvin after he was charged in Floyd’s killing last year.
Meanwhile, more stories about Chauvin’s alleged eagerness to use force against non-white members of the public are emerging ahead of his trial.
Zaya Code, a 38-year-old Black woman who is listed as a prospective witness in the trial, told the Marshall Project that in 2017, Chauvin knelt on her neck while she was restrained on the ground.
Chauvin and another police officer had apprehended her while responding to a call about a fight between her and her mother.
From the Marshall Project:
In the prosecutors’ description of the arrest, based on Chauvin’s report and body-camera video, Chauvin told Code she was under arrest and grabbed her arm. When she pulled away, he pulled her to the ground face first and knelt on her. The two officers then picked her up and carried her outside the house, face down. There, prosecutors said, Chauvin knelt on the back of the handcuffed woman “even though she was offering no physical resistance at all.”
Code, in an interview, said she began pleading: “Don’t kill me.”
At that point, according to the prosecutors’ account, Chauvin told his partner to restrain Code’s ankles as well, though she “was not being physically aggressive.” As he tied her, she said, she told the other officer, “You’re learning from an animal. That man—that’s evilness right there.”
Cahill has allowed prosecutors to present Code’s brutal arrest—which they say depict Chauvin’s history of unreasonable use of force—at the trial, but there are other similar stories from people of color which have not been allowed to be admitted as evidence.
A Black man, Jimmy Bostic, told the Marshall Project he was arrested by Chauvin outside a food and crafts market in Minneapolis in 2016, after security guards there told him to leave.
“The next thing I felt was arms just wrapped around my neck,” Bostic said, describing how the cop subdued him. “I started telling him, ‘Let go, I’m having trouble breathing. I have asthma. I can’t breathe.’”
In the arrest report for that incident, Chauvin wrote that he secured Bostic’s “neck/head area” with his hands.
Prosecutors also tried to include the case of Julian Hernandez, who said Chauvin arrested him at El Nuevo Nightclub in 2015 while he was trying to leave the venue.
From the Marshall Project again:
Chauvin’s report said that Hernandez tried to turn around as he was preparing to handcuff him, so he pushed him away “by applying pressure toward his Lingual Artery” at the top of the neck.Hernandez said the officer told him “you just need to leave,” and he remembered thinking that he was trying to leave but was not being allowed to do so. As Chauvin pushed him into a wall and grabbed him by the throat, Hernandez recalled thinking, “You’re choking me.”
In another incident, a witness reported seeing Chauvin pepper spray a man in the face after he refused police requests to take his hand out of his pocket. According to body camera footage obtained by prosecutors and the witness’ statements, Chauvin then restrained the man’s neck and pinned him face down in a puddle of water for minutes at a time while kneeling on his lower back.
“He said, ‘I can’t breathe—can I just put my head up?’” said the witness. “And they just held his face in the water, and I couldn’t see a purpose for that.”
Chauvin had at least 22 complaints or internal investigations in his 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department but was disciplined for only one, according to the New York Times.
Prosecutors were however allowed to include one other case involving Chauvin in the upcoming trial—one in which he placed a suicidal man, who was restrained, on his side so he could breathe. The idea is to show that Chauvin knew how to use reasonable force when restraining people but did not take similar lifesaving measures with Floyd.