MINNEAPOLIS >> The four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd are due in court today for a hearing that could deal with bail amounts and other issues.
It’s the second pretrial hearing for the men, who were fired after Floyd’s May 25 death. Derek Chauvin, 44, is charged with second-degree murder and other counts, while Thomas Lane, 37, J. Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, are charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin.
Floyd died after Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee against the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man’s neck for nearly eight minutes. The officers were responding to a call about a man trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby store.
The defendants have not entered pleas. Chauvin’s attorney has not commented publicly on the charges, while Lane’s and Kueng’s attorneys have sought to minimize their clients’ roles and deflect blame to the more senior Chauvin in Floyd’s death, which sparked protests around the world against police brutality.
Among the issues that could be addressed during today’s hearings in Minneapolis are motions to reduce bail. Chauvin remains in custody, with his bail set at $1 million with a list of common conditions. Thao’s conditional bail was set at $750,000. Lane and Kueng are free on bond. Also unresolved is whether the four will be tried together or separately.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill is presiding over the case. He ruled Friday that there will be no video or audio coverage of any pretrial proceedings. Defense attorneys asked to allow such coverage, but prosecutors objected. The judge did not rule on whether to allow cameras for the trial itself, which in Minnesota usually requires the consent of all parties.
Kueng’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, filed a motion Sunday on behalf of all four defendants asking the judge to reconsider. He asserted that prosecutors and other officials forfeited their right to object to cameras in the courtroom by making public comments that went as far as “saying the defendants are guilty of murder.” He said allowing electronic coverage of pretrial proceedings would actually make it easier to impanel a fair jury by helping to “educate the public that there may be more to the cases than what has been told to them by the state.”
The charges against Chauvin are unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Second-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, third-degree murder carries up to 25 years and manslaughter up to 10.
The other three former officers are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Those charges are legally tantamount to the counts against Chauvin and carry the same penalties.