The judge in the criminal case against the former cops accused of killing George Floyd disqualified the county prosecutor and his staff from participating because of ‘sloppy’ workSeptember 11, 2020
- A local judge overseeing the criminal case against the cops accused of killing George Floyd has disqualified the county attorney's office from working on the case, calling their work "sloppy," reporters at the hearing said.
- Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman sent prosecutors from his office to interview the medical examiner, which made them witnesses in the criminal case.
- The Friday motion hearing, which lasted more than three hours, was the first time the four former officers appeared in a courtroom together.
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A local judge overseeing the criminal case against four former Minneapolis police officers accused of killing George Floyd disqualified the local county attorney's office from working on the case, calling the work of the office "sloppy," journalists at the hearing reported.
Following Floyd's May 25 killing, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman sent prosecutors to interview the medical examiner who performed Floyd's autopsy, a move that turned the lawyers into witnesses, WCCO-TV reporter Esme Murphy tweeted from the courtroom.
Freeman's office is assisting the Minnesota Attorney General in prosecuting the case.
Friday's motion hearing was the first time that the former cops — Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng — appeared in court together.
Attorneys for the men appear to be turning on one another, each claiming he thought someone else was in charge during the incident that ignited new calls for police accountability and racial justice.
Chauvin, the arresting officer, was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds as the 46-year-old Black man repeated, "Please, I can't breathe."
Chauvin is charged with one count each of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Kueng, Lane, and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill oversaw the hearing which lasted more than three hours and covered issues involving jury selection, identification, and sequestration, as well as whether the criminal case should be moved out of the county, according to the Star Tribune, which also had a reporter in the court.
Cahill hasn't ruled on the motions, but did note that moving the case out of the county would likely not benefit the process to find an impartial jury, according to Murphy.
The judge said that forming a jury pool should happen six months before the trial date — which is exceptionally early — so the court can screen the the media exposure of potential jurors, Murphy, of WCCO-TV, reported.
"'There is not a county or state in this country that has not had publicity in the George Floyd case,'" the television reporter tweeted, quoting Cahill.
Thao's attorney, Robert Paule, responded that "we have had cities ablaze because of these cases," Murphy reported, and that jurors in Minneapolis might feel pressure to convict.
The hearing drew hundreds of protesters and members of Floyd's family
Hours before the hearing began on Friday, protesters began surrounding the area to call for justice in Floyd's killing.
"Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail," they chanted, "The whole damn system is guilty as hell."
Several people also spoke about Floyd's killing before the group held an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence Friday.
Protesters remained outside the municipal building where the hearing was held after Floyd's family and their lawyers left the hearing.
Speaking to the crowd, Floyd's brothers condemned defense attorneys for the disgraced officers for bringing allegations of drug abuse into the courtroom.
Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, argued that Floyd died from chronic health issues and drug abuse, according to the Star Tribune.
"They're trying to claim the knee on his neck for 8 mins and 46 seconds had nothing to do with his death. They're trying to claim the knee on his neck for 8 mins and 46 seconds was reasonable. They are trying to claim the asinine theory about an overdose," civil rights attorney Benjamin Lloyd Crump said to the crowd. "The only overdose that killed George Floyd was the overdose of excessive force and racism by the Minneapolis Police Department."
Floyd's three brothers — Rodney, Terrence, and Philonise — also shared thoughts about the hearing.
Rodney Floyd spoke first, saying that after his brother was killed, he tried to hide the news of his brother's death from his 9-year-old daughter, "but it found her."
He recalled getting a phone call from the girl, offering him comfort. Rodney Floyd also noted that his brother was a beloved father, uncle and friend.
He said he wants the public to know that person, and "not the man they're trying to paint him to be."
"That officer was the only one getting high off of my brother begging for his life," Rodney Floyd said.
The trial is scheduled for March 8, 2021, the Star Tribune reported.
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