MINNEAPOLIS | Minneapolis judge hoped Monday to hold trial for police involved in murder of George Floyd on March 8, but threatened to disorient him if parties continue to speak in the media on this America-revolted case .
Dressed in an orange prisoner costume, his face covered with a mask, ex-agent Derek Chauvin appeared via video link from the high security prison where he has been held for a month.
The 44-year-old white man is charged with murder for suffocating George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, while kneeling on his neck for long minutes.
His three former colleagues Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, accused of complicity in murder, appeared in person in a court in this city in Minnesota, in the northern United States.
The first two were released on bail on bail of $ 750,000. The latter is still in prison, but has been transferred to court for this hearing.
The four, all of whom were laid off from the police, face up to 40 years in prison. They have not yet said whether they plan to plead guilty or not.
On May 25, they wanted to arrest George Floyd suspected of having tried to sell a counterfeit 20 dollar bill in a Minneapolis store. The man in his forties, handcuffed, was pressed to the ground and Constable Derek Chauvin applied his knee to his neck to keep him there.
“I can’t breathe,” pleaded George Floyd several times before he lost consciousness. Despite the interventions of passers-by, Derek Chauvin continued to exert pressure.
“Great public interest”
The drama, whose images captured by a passerby went viral, has sparked a wave of unprecedented protests since the great marches for civil rights in the 1960s, which has even crossed American borders.
Processions mingled with calls to reform the police, end inequality between black and white Americans, and take on the country’s racist and slavery past.
At the hearing, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer complained that many officials, including the mayor of Minneapolis or even President Donald Trump, commented on the matter. “This is a matter of great public interest,” admitted Mr. Eric Nelson, “but if these statements continue I will ask the courts” to ban them, he threatened.
Judge Peter Cahill, who had banned the cameras in the courtroom, also wanted the case to go to court, not the media. Otherwise, the trial will have to be changed outside of Hennepin County, he said.
The magistrate fixed March 8, 2021, the possible date for its holding. This may however be reviewed depending on the progress of the procedure.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank said he too wanted a “fair trial” and pledged to recommend that family, officials and investigators responsible for the case refrain from commenting on the case publicly in the future.
At the same time, outside of the courthouse, an uncle of George Floyd wanted the trial not to be held in Minnesota. “I’m not mad at anyone,” Selwyn Jones, who came from South Dakota on purpose for the hearing, told reporters.
But for him the trial “will not be fair” if it takes place in this state where the black population is very minority.
The next hearing has been set for September 11.