Four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd appeared Monday in court.
Judge Peter Cahill set a March 8, 2021, trial for the former officers but did not indicate whether they would be tried separately or together.
Derek Chauvin, 44, was arrested on May 29, four days after he was caught on camera pinning his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while the handcuffed black man struggled for air and begged for his life. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The three other officers at the scene, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, have been charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Prosecutors disclosed that they have gathered about 8,000 pieces of evidence and continue to gather more.
Thao’s attorney, Robert Matthew Paule, provided the following statement on Monday:
“I have not commented publically in any regard… I’ve done so out of respect for Mr. Floyd and his family, I’m going to continue to do that. The judge today issued an order telling the litigants, whom I’m one, that we’re not to comment on the evidence, what we see as the merits to the case, or a person’s guilt or innocence… so I’m not going to do that.”
He later added, “my condolences to Mr. Floyd and his family, the death of a loved one is a very sad thing even under the best of circumstances.”
District Judge Peter A. Cahill warned all parties to stop talking about the case publicly and threatened a gag order or a possible change in venue for the trials if heavy pre-trial publicity continues.
“The court is not going to be happy about hearing about the case in three areas: media, evidence and guilt or innocence,” Cahill said.
He asked Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank to use his influence to keep public officials silent, warning that if they continued to discuss it publicly, he likely would “have to pull (trials) out of Hennepin County and they need to be aware of that.”
According to jail records, Chauvin, 44, and Thao, 34, have been in custody since their arrest, while Lane, 37, and Kueng, 26, were released on conditional bond.