Judge Peter Cahill has ruled that former police officer Derek Chauvin be tried alone in March. Chauvin is best known as the officer who pressed his knee against George Floyd's neck for more than eight last May. Nearby, three officers watched as Chauvin restricted Floyd's ability to breathe. The officers in question will be tried as a trio later this year.
Initially, prosecutors advocated that the trial be postponed until the summer due to a variety of reasons. First, prosecutors argue that the evidence used in Chauvin's trial will likely apply to the three other defendants. In response, Judge Cahill and Chief Judge Toddrick Barnette said that the court could only hold three defendants at once.
Prosecutors have also asked that the trial be postponed until June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Judge Cahill struck down the motion and proceeded with the March 8 start date as previously scheduled. As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens nationwide, Cahill believes that postponing the trial until March will not make much of a difference.
“The Court is not so optimistic given news reports detailing problems with the vaccine rollout," Cahill wrote.
If Cahill's ruling holds, there will likely be limited public attendance at the trial due to the pandemic. More than 100,000 people have been hospitalized per day for more than five weeks. Making matters worse, the COVID-19 single-day death toll has been broken several days within the last 30 days.
Heading into the trial, Chauvin faces second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. In August, former officers Tou Thao, J.Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane will face charges of abetting second-degree manslaughter and aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
The officers involved are expected to plead not guilty to all charges.
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