The family of George Floyd and their attorneys spoke to a cheering crowd of protesters Friday (Sept. 11) outside a downtown Minneapolis courthouse after the four former officers accused in his death appeared in a pretrial hearing. During the hearing, attorneys for Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — the officers involved in Floyd’s death — insinuated that drugs found in his system led to an overdose.
“The only overdose that killed George Floyd was excessive force,” said his family’s attorney Benjamin Crump countered to a crowd of demonstrators and reporters. “They kill a person and they assassinate our character and that will not hold.”
A crowd had gathered shouting chants of “we got your back” as the family continued to ask for support and call for justice in the midst of several developments inside the courtroom, including a motion on the part of the defense to change the trial venue.
“Where I'm from, if it was one of us that killed the other person, it wouldn't be no hearing [sic],” said Terence Floyd, who joined George Floyd’s other brothers, Rodney and Philonise outside of the hearing. “It would be an open and shut case. But here we are in a hearing over something that we saw happen. I don’t believe this.”
“The one thing I want is accountability,” he continued. “Growing up that's what I was taught. Be accountable for your actions. If you do the crime you do the time so why should it be different for these guys?”
RELATED: George Floyd Update -- Cops Charged in His Death Turn Against Each Other, Request Separate Trials
Also during the Friday pretrial hearing, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill decided to disqualify Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and his staff from the case, calling their actions “sloppy.” Cahill made the ruling because they sent prosecutors to question the medical examiner, making them witnesses in the case, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The move was one of several during the 3 ½ hour hearing that could determine the direction of the case.
Chauvin, who on May 25, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck until he asphyxiated, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Lane, Kueng, and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin is the only defendant in custody. The other three have been released on bail.
Each of their lawyers made pending motions to dismiss the case. In addition, all four of the former police officers are asking for separate trials because “evidence against one officer could negatively impact another's right to a fair trial.” However, prosecutors claim four separate trials will be too painful for the Floyd family.
Additionally, witness statements, body camera video and Minneapolis Police Department policy is similar for all of the accused officers, CBS Minnesota reported. “Here, all four Defendants worked together to murder Floyd: Chauvin, Kueng, and Lane pinned Floyd face-down, while Thao stopped the crowd from intervening, enabling the other Defendants to maintain their positions,” prosecutors said in a filing.
But defense attorneys, in moving for separate trials, said that the officers would attack each other if they were tried together. “There are going to be side attacks (from other defense attorneys) that I’m going to have to deal with,” said attorney Robert Paule, who represents Thao.
Attorneys also argued over jury selection and whether the trial should be moved out of Hennepin County. Cahill did not rule on any of those motions on Friday. But he did rule that past run-ins from George with the law in Texas would not be admitted into the trial.
A trial date for the four officers has tentatively been scheduled for March 8, 2021.
BET has been covering every angle of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other social justice cases and the subsequent aftermath and protests. For our continuing coverage, click here.
Photo Credit: Screengrab, WCCO