MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the four fired Minneapolis police officers accused in George Floyd’s murder intends to plead not guilty.
All four former officers — Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tau Thao — appeared before a judge Monday. The brief form filed Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, says he plans to plead not guilty, that he was acting in self-defense, and was using reasonable and authorized use of force under Minnesota law.
Just three hours earlier, Kueng and Plunkett walked into the hearing. Outside, Kueng’s mother and relatives embraced, telling WCCO they were there to support him.
Kueng and Lane are both free after having posted $750,000 bails. Plunkett and Earl Gray, Lane’s attorney, say their clients – both rookie officers — tried to get veteran officer Chauvin to stop kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
Chauvin, who was fired two days after Floyd’s death, appeared via Zoom from a maximum-security prison in St. Cloud. His attorney, Eric Nelson, said he wanted a gag order barring all parties and public officials from talking about the case. Chauvin is still being held on $1 million bail.
Thao is being held in the Hennepin County Jail and appeared in person. His attorney, Robert Paule, said he would file a motion to move the trial, and he criticized the prosecution for not wanting TV cameras in court.
Judge Peter Cahill acknowledged that continued comments by public officials about the case is more likely to push it out of Hennepin County.
“I find it ironic that the attorney general’s office and the rest of the public officials who have been commenting publicly on this case and sensitive information know want to keep the trial not open to the public,” Paule said.
The four ex-officers had argued in favor of having Monday’s hearing televised. The prosecution opposed that, and Judge Cahill ruled against it. But Cahill indicated he is open to televising other hearings in the case, and even the trial itself. He said he has even looked into streaming services.
The judge set a date of Sept. 11 for motions, and March 8 for the start of the trial.