All four the ex-Minneapolis police officers who were involved in the death of George Floyd have appeared in court together for the first time on Friday. Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao have not appeared in court physically together as Chauvin is the only one still behind bars, and is the only one charged with second-degree murder in the case, and has previously gone before the court via virtual hearings. Kueng, Lane, and Thao were arrested for their involvement, but have since been released on bond.
All four men would like for the murder trial to be moved out of Minneapolis, citing "pretrial publicity" as the reason. Judge LaJune Lange, who served in Hennepin County for 21 years before retiring, spoke with WCCO and explained that this is unlikely to happen. "When you have saturation throughout the state, the nation and the world with the same information, a change of venue motion would only serve to reduce persons of color and persons who have diverse experiences in the jury pool," Lange said.
Another question on the table is whether all the officers should be tried together or separate. Lawyers for Kueng, Lang and Thao have reportedly argued that the men tried to stop Chauvin, or were distracted by the gathering witnesses, as Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd's neck during the arrest.
Ex-Cops Blame One Another, Seek Own Trials in George Floyd's Death.— Shomari Stone (@shomaristone) September 11, 2020
Attorneys for 4 former Minneapolis officers charged in the death of George Floyd say each client should get his own trial. They point fingers at one another: @nbcwashington. #GeorgeFloydhttps://t.co/pmoZHYCr02
Chauvin, 44, initially was charged with third-degree murder, but his charges were later upgraded to include second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter. The other three officers are all charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. All four men were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department and arrested. Lane has since filed a request to have the charges against him dismissed — per the New York Times — based on actions he took, such as being the one to request an ambulance for Floyd when he stated that he was in distress.
In its initial report, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner stated that they discovered "no physical findings" to support "a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation" as Floyd's cause of death. This prompted Floyd's family to have an independent autopsy done, as they were skeptical of these findings. Pathologists Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson completed the independent autopsy, and determined that Floyd's death was a "homicide caused by asphyxia." Dr. Baden added, "Police have this false impression that if you can talk, you can breathe. That's not true."