Attorneys for the four Minneapolis police officers charged with George Floyd’s death argued that their clients should each be given separate trials, while prosecutors on Friday claimed they should be tried together to give Floyd’s loved one another and unnecessary one To spare trauma.
On Friday, Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao appeared together in court for the first time.
Chauvin was charged with second degree murder, third degree murder, and manslaughter after pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck when the black 46-year-old said he could not breathe before becoming motionless on May 25. Lane, Kueng, and Thao are charged with assisting and assisting second degree murder and manslaughter.
Requests for discharge from charges will not be processed on Friday. A trial is planned for March.
At the trial, the defense filed a motion to move the trial out of Minneapolis. The judge also discussed the extent to which the jury could be confiscated or anonymous.
The state presented several arguments for a joint process on Friday.
The evidence and charges are similar, the state said, and witnesses would likely stay the same but may not be available for multiple trials that could take years. Four trials would delay justice and tax the court, the state said. And the judgment of the first trial would have the ability to influence the next three.
Prosecutor Neal Katyal added that “forcing the family, victims and eyewitnesses to go through not one, not two, three, but four will force reliving the trauma”
“I’ve seen a lot in my life, I can barely see these videos,” Katyal said, referring to several videos that show almost every nook and cranny of the minutes and seconds that lead to Floyd’s last breaths.
A joint process would also allow the public to take and act on judgments all at once, the state said.
Defense lawyers want judicial proceedings to be kept separate for all four officers so that each officer can be brought to justice on their own evidence, arguing that evidence against one officer could prejudice another’s right to a fair trial.
A lawyer for Floyd’s family accused defense attorneys of moving to a new venue to get a cheaper jury pool.
“The goal in trying to change venues is to find as many jurors as possible who don’t look like George Floyd,” attorney Jeff Storms said in court. “And that’s the only goal.”
The case is being pursued by attorneys under the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Several prosecutors under Hennepin District Attorney Mike Freeman had helped before Hennepin District Judge Peter Cahill on Friday barred four lawyers from Freeman’s staff from being involved in the case.
The district attorneys interviewed medical examiners with no other witnesses and left those attorneys open to be called as witnesses by the defense. Cahill called this “sloppy” work.
Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country and around the world, leading to calls for police reform and racial justice.
A few dozen protesters gathered outside the courthouse Friday morning and sang “No Justice, No Peace” and “Say His Name … George Floyd”.
The Associated Press and David K. Li contributed.