MINNEAPOLIS ( Associated Press) – The judge overseeing the remaining case of two former Minneapolis police officers charged in the murder of George Floyd ordered Monday that the trial be adjourned until January to improve chances of a fair trial.
Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng was to be tried next Monday on charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd in May 2020. But Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ordered Monday that the trial be postponed until January 5.
Cahill denied a defense motion for a change of venue because of the widespread pretrial publicity surrounding the case. But he said media reports and recent events surrounding linked cases have created “a reasonable possibility of unfair testing” if it is to begin next week.
Cahill cited a guilty plea on May 18 by Thao and King’s co-defendants, former Officer Thomas Lane. He also cited the convictions of Thao, Kueng and Lane on federal civil rights charges in a separate trial in federal court in February.
The judge said those two incidents and the publicity surrounding them may make it difficult for jurors to believe that Thao and Kueng are innocent of state charges against them. Therefore, he ordered a seven-month delay to reduce the impact of that promotion.
Cahill also presided over last year’s trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, which ended in a conviction for second-degree murder and a 9 1/2-minute sentence despite a 22 1/2-year sentence for the white officer. Floyd’s fading plea of ”I can’t breathe” despite the black man kneeling on his neck. The killing sparked worldwide protests and a national outcry over racial injustice.
Watch the Associated Press’s full coverage of George Floyd’s death here: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd
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