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Murder of George Floyd: judge sets March 8 as possible date for trial

(Minneapolis) A Minneapolis judge hoped on Monday to be able to start the trial of the police officers implicated in the murder of George Floyd on March 8, but threatened to change his scenery if the parties continue to speak in the media on this file that revolted the United States.

Joy POWELL with Charlotte PLANTIVE in Washington

France Media Agency

“I would like that the advertisement before the trial does not imply any press release from the families of the parties, their friends or their elected representatives,” said magistrate Peter Cahill during a much-anticipated hearing in this city of northern United States.

Dressed in an orange prisoner's costume, his face covered with a mask, ex-agent Derek Chauvin appeared by video link from the high security prison where he has been detained for a month. This 40 year old white man is charged with murder for asphyxiating George Floyd, an African American 46 years old, kneeling on his neck for long periods minutes.

His three former colleagues Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, prosecuted for complicity in the murder, appeared in person before the judge. The first two were released on bail against the payment of a bond from 750 00 0 dollars. The latter is still in custody but has been transferred to court for this hearing.

The four men, all of whom were dismissed from the police, run up to 40 years of seclusion.

In a document sent after the hearing, the lawyer for Alexander Kueng indicated that his client intended to plead “not guilty” and maintain that he had made “reasonable use of force ” to defend. The strategies of the other accused have not yet been released.

On 25 May, the four officers wanted to arrest George Floyd suspected of having tried to sell a fake note from 20 dollars in a Minneapolis store. The man in his forties, handcuffed, was pressed to the ground and Constable Derek Chauvin applied his knee to his neck to keep him there.

“I can't breathe anymore,” begged George Floyd several times before he lost consciousness. Despite passers-by, Derek Chauvin continued to apply pressure for almost eight minutes, according to the indictment.

PHOTO DARNELLA FRAZIER VIA AFP

Derek Chauvin arresting George Floyd.

“Great public interest”

The drama, whose images captured by a passerby went viral, has sparked a wave of unprecedented demonstrations since the great marches for civil rights for years 60, which even crossed the American borders.

At the hearing, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer complained that many officials, including the mayor of Minneapolis or even President Donald Trump, commented on the case. “This is a file that is of great public interest,” acknowledged M e Eric Nelson, “but if these statements continue I will ask the justice” to ban them, he threatened.

Judge Peter Cahill, who had banned the cameras in the courtroom, also wanted the case to be tried in court and not in the media. Otherwise, the trial will have to be changed outside of Hennepin County, he said.

The magistrate fixed March 8 2021 the possible date for its holding. This may however be reviewed depending on the progress of the procedure.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank said he too wanted a “fair trial” and undertook to recommend to the family, the elected officials and the investigators responsible for the file to refrain from commenting on the file publicly in the future . But “I can't force them to,” he said.

At the same time, outside the courthouse, an uncle of George Floyd wanted the trial not to be held in Minnesota. “I'm not mad at anyone,” Selwyn Jones, who came from South Dakota on purpose for the hearing, told reporters.

But for him the trial “will not be fair” if it takes place in this state where the black population is very minority.

The next hearing has been scheduled for 11 September.

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