George Floyd murder suspect appears in court

George Floyd murder suspect appears in court

The hearing will mark the first time that Derek Chauvin appears in court in person since being charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter after kneeling on Floyd's neck for about nine minutes on May 25.

Three other former officers are charged with abetting and aiding murder.

Floyd's death on May 25 became a symbol of what many say is systemic racism and abuse of African Americans by police, and sparked protests across the country that continue under the banner of "Black Lives Matter".

But Chauvin pointed fingers, too.

Prosecutors say Floyd's death was "vicious, brutal, and dehumanizing". Now, in 4 of these cases, the restraint was forced to a point beyond need, including the July 2019 incident, during which Chauvin put in neck restraint over a drunk main leading to complete unconsciousness.

In case the EMS arrived about 3 minutes sooner, Floyd would have survived.

Lawyers for the four ex-police officers jointly pleaded for him to stand outside the twin cities of Minneapolis / St. Paul and to protect the anonymity of jurors, in the name of their safety.

"The only overdose that killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force and racism by the Minneapolis Police Department", he said.

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At issue was their handling of an interview with Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, who performed Floyd's autopsy. If Kueng and Lane had chosen to de-escalate instead of struggle, Mr. Floyd may have survived.

Defence lawyer Earl Gray, who represents Lane, and other lawyers argued briefly against trying the ex-officers together but relied mostly on the arguments they submitted in their briefs.

"Who are you going to believe, your eyes or these killer cops?" he said.

The hearing was not, however, meant to address the merits of the case, but the practical organization of a trial that promises to be extraordinary.

Cahill granted a defense request to remove a local prosecutor from the case. He said he wanted to send a questionnaire to potential jurors to see how they had been affected by media coverage, and whether a fair jury could be selected in Hennepin County.

The attorneys also requested the trial to be moved from the Minneapolis court to someplace else, given the fact that the pretrial publicity related to the case has made it particularly impossible for the accused to get a fair court trial.

While Cahill did not rule on any major motions, he dealt a blow to the prosecution by disqualifying Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and three other lawyers in his office from participating in the case because of a meeting they had with the medical examiner with no outside attorneys present. Freeman has run out of any favors with the local activists, given the way the office had handled the cases against the police officers.

Before the hearing, a few dozen protesters gathered in front of the courthouse, chanting "No justice, no peace". One carried a Black Lives Matter flag and wore a black helmet with swim goggles around the back of his head. Some beat drums while others chanted anti-police slogans. They jeered the defense attorneys loudly while they left this courthouse.

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