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Judge denies motion to delay or move trial of former officer charged with murder in George Floyd's death

"Unfortunately, I think the pretrial publicity in this case will continue no matter how long we continue it," the judge said.
Derek Chauvin pictured on March 15, 2021.
Eric Nelson, left, the attorney for former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, right, in court for jury selection this week in Minneapolis.AP

A judge on Friday ordered that the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd will continue as scheduled.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill had been considering a motion from the defense team of fired Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin to delay or move the trial over concerns that the publicity surrounding a $27 million settlement that the city reached with Floyd's family last week would affect jurors’ ability to be impartial.

"Unfortunately, I think the pretrial publicity in this case will continue no matter how long we continue it. Perhaps some of it may, with time, be forgotten by people," Cahill said Friday morning. "And as far as change of venue, I do not think that that would give the defendant any kind of a fair trial beyond what we are doing here today."

"I don't think there is any place in the state of Minnesota that has not been subjected to extreme amounts of publicity on this case," he said.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is leading the prosecution, said in a statement Friday morning that the court "correctly ruled against a continuance and change of venue."

"The court has taken careful, considered steps to mitigate the effects of pre-trial publicity that make a continuance and change of venue unnecessary," he added. "A week ahead of schedule, both sides have now agreed on 12 jurors, more than half of whom were selected since early last Friday afternoon and all of whom have been carefully screened for impartiality in the face of inevitable pre-trial publicity not only in Hennepin County, but in every part of Minnesota."

On Wednesday, Cahill dismissed two jurors who had been seated because they said their knowledge of the settlement would influence their opinion.

Cahill also ruled that a portion of a video taken by an officer's body camera during a May 2019 arrest can be admitted as evidence, saying that it was "an example of Mr. Floyd's bodily reaction" when confronted with circumstances similar to those of May 25, 2020, the day he died.

As of Friday morning, 13 jurors had been selected, leaving one alternate to be chosen. The jury includes three Black men, one Black woman, two multiracial women, five white women and two white men.

Chauvin, who was recorded on bystander video kneeling on Floyd's neck for about nine minutes, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. The video brought national and international attention to Floyd's death and prompted global protests for racial justice and against police brutality.

The City Council unanimously approved the settlement in Floyd’s death, which is the largest in the city’s history, last Friday. His family filed a federal lawsuit in July against the city and the four officers involved in the arrest that led to his death. The three other officers, who were also fired the day, are scheduled to stand trial in August. They are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Opening statements in Chauvin's trial are scheduled to begin March 29.