The federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers accused of violating George Floyd’s civil rights, which was abruptly halted last week when one of the defendants tested positive for COVID-19, is expected to begin on February 7th.
Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes as he was shackled, face-down, and gasping for oxygen, according to J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, who are charged with depriving Floyd of his rights. Kueng and Thao are also accused of not intervening in the May 2020 death that sparked worldwide demonstrations and a reassessment of racism and policing.
The second week of the trial came to a close on Wednesday when Judge Paul Magnuson announced that one of the defendants had tested positive for drugs. Despite the fact that the defendant was not identified, Kueng and Thao appeared in court, whereas Lane did not. It was not revealed whether or not Lane possessed COVID-19 by Lane’s lawyer.
Everyone who had come into contact with this person during the trial was to be retested before the trial resumed. Jurors and Magnuson were not considered close contacts by the court since they were not within six feet of the attorneys.
Each morning, before the study begins, case participants are required to complete questionnaires about COVID-19 symptoms. A COVID-19 test is administered immediately to anyone who tests positive, has been in close contact with someone who does, or begins to exhibit symptoms.
Following the selection of a jury in one day, the trial began on January 24. In the event that one or more of the jurors was unwell and had to withdraw, Mr. Magnuson instructed the selection of six alternates instead of the normal two.
Mr. Magnuson placed limits on the number of people allowed in the courtroom in order to ensure social separation. In addition to just allowing four pool reporters and a sketch artist in, the cops’ families and friends, as well as Floyd, were severely restricted. Everyone who entered the courtroom was asked about their symptoms.
A closed-circuit TV stream can be viewed by the general public and other journalists in separate rooms.
Most persons in the courts are required to wear masks, as is the case in public facilities in St. Paul and Minneapolis. The judge granted an exemption for himself, citing a severe lung disease and for witnesses when testifying so their voices aren’t muted.
Due to the epidemic, most other federal court cases in Minnesota are being held through video or teleconference, while state courts are using a mix of in-person and remote proceedings.
Defense counsel is likely to call witnesses once the government witnesses finish testifying. Whether or not other cops will testify has not been confirmed by Lane’s counsel.
Floyd, 46, resisted the policemen when they tried to push him into a police vehicle and after they put him on the ground. Bystanders were kept at a distance by Kueng, Lane, and Thao as he knelt on Floyd’s back.
Kueng, who is Black, Lane, who is white, and Thao, who is Hmong American, are charged with knowingly depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights while operating under government power. One count against all three cops states that they noticed that Floyd required medical assistance and failed to help. A count against Thao and Kueng alleges that they didn’t intervene to stop Derek Chauvin. On both counts, it is alleged that the acts of the cops led to Floyd’s passing.
After being found guilty in state court of murder and manslaughter, Chauvin agreed to plead guilty to federal civil rights violations. He is still incarcerated. A separate state trial for Lane, Kueng and Thao will be held in June on allegations of assisting in the murder and manslaughter of two people. Since shortly after they were charged in June 2020, all three have been released on bail.
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