MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — The Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder in George Floyd’s death made his first court appearance Monday.
The judge set Derek Chauvin’s unconditional bail at $1.25 million or $1 million with conditions.
Derek Chauvin, 44, said almost nothing during an 11-minute hearing in which he appeared before Hennepin County Judge Denise Reilly on closed-circuit television from the state’s maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights. His attorney, Eric Nelson, did not contest the bail — raised from the $500,000 initially set in the case — and didn’t address the substance of the charges, which also include third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Defense Attorney Mike Brandt who is not involved in the case thinks Nelson’s background will help Chauvin.
“I think his experience and his handling of those high profile cases will be huge in this case,” Brandt said.
And while Brandt agrees that successful prosecutions of police officers are hard to come by, he says the defense will have to overcome the infamous video and the unprecedented pretrial publicity.
“I can’t imagine a case in memory that has generated this much publicity,” Brandt said. “The challenge is going to be where are you going to find an unbiased jury in this state. That is going to be difficult.”
Because of pre-trial publicity, Brandt expects the defense to try and move the trial out of Hennepin County.
Chauvin’s next appearance is set for June 29 at 1:30 p.m.
The other three officers — J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — are charged with aiding and abetting. They remain in the Hennepin County jail on $750,000 bond.
Floyd’s death has ignited calls to reform the Minneapolis Police Department, which community activists have long accused of entrenched racial discrimination and brutality. A majority of Minneapolis City Council members said Sunday that they favor disbanding the department entirely, though they have yet to offer concrete plans for what would replace it.
“Nobody is saying we want to abolish health or safety,” Council Member Alondra Cano told WCCO-AM on Monday. “What we are saying is we have a broken system that is not producing the outcomes we want.”
The state last week launched a civil rights investigation of the department. On Friday, the council approved a stipulated agreement that immediately banned the use of chokeholds and neck restraints and included several other changes. That investigation is ongoing.
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