The trial of former white police officer Derek Chauvin charged with the murder of African-American George Floyd will open as scheduled on March 8, but his co-defendants will be tried separately in late August, a judge has ordered in a ruling made public Tuesday.
The prosecution and the defense had requested a postponement of the opening of the trial of the four police officers, in particular because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even in the largest courtroom in Minneapolis, “it will be impossible to comply with physical distancing rules in the event of a joint trial,” Judge Peter Cahill acknowledged in his ruling.
However, he ordered that the trial of Derek Chauvin, 44, who had been kneeling for more than eight minutes on George Floyd’s neck on May 25 in the large northern city, be kept on schedule.
His former colleagues Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, accused of complicity, “will be tried together from August 23,” he added.
The four men, who were asking to be tried separately, were all released on bail.
The prosecution argued on the contrary for a single trial, so as not to increase the trauma of relatives and the cost for the taxpayer.
In court documents, the defendants pleaded to have used reasonable force in front of a struggling man. But lines of fractures have appeared between them and they seem tempted to blame themselves for the drama.
George Floyd’s ordeal, filmed and uploaded by a passer-by, stirred emotion far beyond American borders and led millions of people to take to the streets of the country to demand police reforms and an end to the racial inequalities.
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