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Judge hears motions to delay trial of four former MPD officers in George Floyd's death

Judge Peter Cahill didn't make a decision during the hearing but said he'd issue his ruling in writing.

MINNEAPOLIS — A Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill heard motions Thursday to delay the trial of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.

The trial is set to begin March 8, but separate motions filed last month by attorneys both for the defense and the state are asking that the trial be delayed until summer.

In early December, defense attorneys for former officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao filed motions asking the court to delay the trial until July 5, accusing prosecutors of violating a court order to share discovery material with the defense. 

Last week, prosecutors also filed a motion to delay the trial until June 7 due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. In their motion, prosecutors said the coronavirus vaccine will be more widely available in early July rather than in March.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death. Fellow former officers Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

During the hearing, KARE 11 reporter Lou Raguse said prosecuting attorney Neal Katyal urged for a three-month continuance, which would push the trial to June, saying the summer months would be better for the safety of the public, with wider availability of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Thao's attorney, Robert Paule, responded by saying, due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, pushing back the trial three months might not have much of an impact when it comes to public health.

Lane's attorney, Earl Gray, said the trial should remain in March, arguing that the weather could perhaps limit any public reaction to the decision.

Judge Cahill says he will take the motions under advisement, which according to Raguse, means he will providing a written ruling rather than providing a decision at the hearing. During the hearing, the possibility of adjusting the discovery deadlines – a date each side must share their evidence and paperwork with each other for it to be admissible – was discussed.