Three ex-officers involved in George Floyd’s death reject plea deal

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer
Three ex-officers involved in George Floyd's death reject plea deal
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The three former Minneapolis Police officers convicted in February of violating George Floyd’s civil rights have rejected a plea deal for their upcoming case for aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd.

Former officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng all rejected a plea deal in their upcoming trial for their roles in the murder of George Floyd. In the 9 ½ minutes that George Floyd was pinned to the ground before losing his life, Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs, and Thao kept bystanders back.

The three men were all convicted for violating George Floyd’s civil rights in a trial earlier this year, and have remained free on bail. The judge in that case has not set a sentencing date yet for the three men.

The lack of sentencing for the earlier trial in part has contributed to the rejected plea deal, according to Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray. He said it was hard for the defense to negotiate when the three men still don’t know what their federal sentences will be.

Judge to Rule on Cameras in Courtroom amidst trial of George Floyd killers

The same judge that allowed live audiovisual coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial is set to decide what type of coverage will be allowed for the upcoming trial of the three men.

In the same pretrial hearing where the defendants rejected the plea deals, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discussed whether he has the authority to allow live video coverage of the upcoming trial.

The reason Judge Cahill allowed live video coverage for the Chauvin trial had to do with the extenuating circumstances of the global pandemic. He cited the need to balance protecting participants from Covid-19 against the constitutional requirement for a public trial.

Judge Cahill did not make a final decision at the pretrial hearing, instead saying he would not make a ruling until after the Minnesota Judicial Council, a panel of leading judges and court administrators, meets Thursday to discuss the issue. 

“Covid-19 is less of a pandemic and more of an endemic issue now,” Cahill said at the pretrial hearing.

Cahill noted that while he has publicly said he now believes the legal presumption should be to allow televised trials, he pointed out that that’s not the rule yet. “I’m still sworn to uphold the law,” he said.

Minnesota court rules generally require the consent of all parties for audiovisual coverage of trials.

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