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Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was filmed with his knee on George Floyd’s neck and later charged with Floyd’s murder, will be tried separately from the other three officers charged in the case.
Minnesota Judge Peter Cahill ruled on Monday, January 11 that physical limitations make it “impossible to comply with Covid 19 physical restrictions” if all four defendants were tried at the same time, The Associated Press reports.
Chauvin, who suffocated Floyd on May 25 by pressing his knee into the 46-year-old’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, will be tried on charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. Jury selection for his trial will begin March 8 through March 26. Opening statements will start no earlier than March 29.
The other three officers implicated in the Floyd case, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, will stand trial together on August 23. Lane and Kueng helped restrain Floyd, while Tou Thao stood nearby and watched as the other officers used excessive force. All three have been charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder and aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter.
“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision to sever three of the defendants from the other and its ruling on the timing of the trials,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement. He believes all four officers should stand trial together. Holding several trials, he said, could “retraumatize eyewitnesses and family members.”
Floyd’s death traumatized people across the globe, sparking massive worldwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.