The trial of former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin charged with murdering African American man George Floyd will begin as scheduled March 8, but his co-defendants will appear separately in late August, a judge ordered during a decision made public Tuesday.
Both the prosecution and defense had requested to postpone the beginning of the trial within the northern US state of Minnesota due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even in the largest courtroom within the county, it might be “impossible to suits COVID-19 physical restrictions during a joint trial involving all four defendants,” judge Peter Cahill said in his decision.
He ordered the court maintain the first trial date for Chauvin, the 44-year-old white former officer who on May 25, 2020 knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes while Floyd protested that he couldn’t breathe.
The killing sparked protests and unrest round the US, with the shootings and deaths of other African Americans including Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky resulting in fervent calls for justice.
Chauvin’s former colleagues Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, charged as accomplices, will stand trial beginning August 23, Cahill said.
The four men, who had asked to be tried separately, were all released on bail.
But the prosecution pushed for one trial, arguing that multiple proceedings would mean unnecessary taxpayer spending and trauma for relatives.
According to court documents, the defendants say they used reasonable force, but cracks have appeared amongst their Northern Alliance and a few of the lads seem able to blame one another for the tragedy.
Floyd’s death captured on bystander video outraged Americans and lots of across the world, resulting in millions taking to the streets to demand police reform.
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