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Only one George Floyd family member at a time allowed in Chauvin trial, judge rules

The ruling also applies to the family of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer on trial in Floyd's death.
Image: Minneapolis Prepares For Possible Unrest As George Floyd Trial Approaches
People gather for a news conference outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on Thursday ahead of the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

Only one member of George Floyd's family at a time will be allowed to attend the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in Floyd's death, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said different family members will be able to rotate through the position. The ruling also applies to Chauvin's family, Cahill wrote in his ruling.

The trial order requires all parties to follow coronavirus restrictions, including keeping 6 feet apart from other people and wearing masks. It bans "any mask or article of clothing that contains any image, logo, letters, or numbers that are visible."

Attorneys Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a joint statement Tuesday that the past year has been a "deeply painful and emotional year for every member of the Floyd family, many of whom intended to be in the courtroom to witness this trial."

"While they understand the judge's reasons to limit attendance in the courtroom, the family is understandably disappointed by this ruling. The family is looking forward to the start of the trial as a critical milestone on the path to justice and a step toward closure in this dark chapter of their lives," they said in a statement.

Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chauvin, who is expected to stand trial Monday, Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. Three other officers charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd's death — Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — will stand trial together in August.

In February, prosecutors sought to add third-degree murder charges against Chauvin after Cahill dropped the initial charge late last year.

About a week later, it was revealed that Chauvin had agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder days after Floyd's death but that Attorney General William Barr rejected the deal.

Lacey Severins, a spokesperson for the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, which was handling the case at the time, said then that "as is typical in many cases, early negotiations can occur between all relevant parties involved."

"Many times, a defendant will explore their options with a negotiation. It is also common for these types of discussions to happen in the beginning of a case and then have no agreed-upon negotiations develop. This case was no different. Negotiations were discussed. Nothing developed," Severins said.

Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody on May 25. Video showed Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd's neck for about nine minutes while he was handcuffed and repeatedly saying, "I can't breathe."

Floyd's death sparked nationwide protests against systemic racism and renewed calls to end police brutality and racial inequities.

Minneapolis police fired all four officers in May.