The judge presiding over the trial of the four Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd has threatened to have the case tried outside of the city if the lawyers involved continue to make “inappropriate” public statements.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill gave the warning at a pretrial hearing for Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao, and Thomas Lane on Monday, according to a report from CNN.
At the hearing, lawyers for the cops complained that recent statements about the case made by government officials—including the President and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz—would prejudice juries against the officers, and also alleged that the Floyd family’s legal team has leaked information to the media.
But Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Floyd family, hit back at the leaking accusation and underscored the importance of transparency for a case that has triggered ongoing protests across the country.
“I don’t believe anybody on our legal team has leaked any information,” Crump said, but he defended the public disclosure of details in the case sought by the media and others.
“The truth of the matter is that there is so much information that has been divulged on this case that everybody, Erin, you all at CNN and all the other media companies are trying to get information,” Crump said on CNN’s Erin Burnett Outfont. “It is important to be transparent. If you’re not transparent, and we don’t have accountability, we continue to have mistrust. ... At the end of the day, I’m sorry, Black people are losing our lives and everybody else is trying to play technicalities. No, we can’t accept that.”
Judge Cahill said at the hearing that the court is targeting March 8, 2021, as the start date for the trial, and emphasized that he did not want attorneys or officials to make comments about the merits of the case, possible evidence, or guilt or innocence in public or it could be moved to a different location.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder after a widely viewed video showed the officer kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old Floyd until he lost consciousness and died. The other three officers on the scene of the killing have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting manslaughter. Chauvin and Thao remain in custody, while Keung and Lane have been released on conditional bond.