The trial of three former Minneapolis police officers accused of aiding and abetting in George Floyd’s death will be pushed back to March 2022, so the federal case against them can first go forward, a judge ruled Thursday.
Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao were supposed to face trial Aug. 23, but Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said he felt the need to put some distance between their trial and the conviction of their co-defendant, former officer Derek Chauvin, given the intense public interest in his trial.
A jury found Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter last month. Viral bystander video captured Chauvin with his knee pressed into 46-year-old Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as Floyd said he could not breathe.
While Thao kept upset bystanders away, the other two officers took up station along Floyd’s body, which was prone and handcuffed on the street.
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The three former officers are accused of aiding and abetting Chauvin in Floyd’s death. They were all fired last year.
All four have been federally charged with violating Floyd’s civil rights during his arrest last May.
Though the defense attorneys agreed to the postponement during Thursday’s hearing on pretrial motions, the state did not support the delay.
Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender for Hennepin County, said Cahill probably hopes that if the officers are convicted in federal court, the state court proceedings could be dismissed. She noted that decision is up to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
“That’s typically what happens because why try a case twice if they get convicted,” Moriarty said.
Ted Sampsell-Jones, a professor for Mitchell Hamline School of Law, said the state could do a plea on the state charges should there be a conviction.
Ellison’s office did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
Defense attorney Earl Gray, who represents Lane, declined to comment. Attorneys for the other two former officers did not reply to a request for comment.
Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced June 25.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
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