MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A judge has shot down the motion on behalf of the four officers facing charges in the death of George Floyd to include a prior arrest of Floyd as evidence.
Lawyers for the now-fired Minneapolis officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane wanted to admit into evidence Floyd’s May 6, 2019 arrest and subsequent admission into HCMC.READ MORE: Osakis Turns Out For Beloved Coach & Widower Who Leaves Behind 3 Boys
Floyd, a Black man, died May 25, 2020 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed face down on the street. Police were investigating whether Floyd used a counterfeit bill at a nearby store. In a video widely seen on social media, Floyd could be heard pleading with officers for air, saying he couldn’t breathe.
Last year, Lane’s attorney wanted the public to see the video. And the prosecution wanted to prevent it from becoming public. Judge Peter Cahill did rule to allow it to be released to the public.
Three body cam videos were released that showed different perspectives. All showed Floyd with police officers. He was a passenger in an unlicensed stop, and he failed to comply with officers initial requests.
“It shows a false narrative by the state,” said Earl Gray, Lane’s attorney. “The state is portraying Mr. Floyd as somebody that he isn’t, and if you see the 2019 video and compare them they’re almost identical.”
WCCO spoke with Joe Tamburino, a Minneapolis attorney who isn’t associated with the case.
“It’s a big blow. I would imagine the judge is keeping this out because it goes to character evidence of Mr. Floyd, and character evidence is normally not admissible at trial,” Tamburino said.READ MORE: New Car Market Delays Drive Used Car Prices To Spike By Thousands
But there is also a setback for the prosecution, which wanted eight of Chauvin’s prior acts to be admitted as evidence. Cahill only approved two. In one case, Chauvin knelt on the neck of a woman who was on the ground. In the other, Chauvin saw two other officers place a man in a side recovery position.
But whether it’s the 2019 video or Chauvin’s prior conduct, Tamburino says the door is shut — but not locked.
“Mind you, these are all decisions that have happened now six weeks from trial. The parties could revisit them, they could ask the judge as the trial goes on to revisit them,” Tamburino said. “Be aware that there will be more and more surprises.”
Earlier this month, Cahill denied a motion to re-join the trials of all four, and also denied the state’s request to push the start of Chauvin’s trial to summer. Chauvin’s trial will still begin March 8.
Cahill also allowed the prosecution the right to enter what is known as a Blakely phase after the end of the trial. If Chauvin is found guilty, it could allow the state to sentence him to more time in prison that what Minnesota guidelines call for. If Chauvin is found not guilty, some legal observers says it’s possible, and even likely, that the charges could be dropped against the other three former officers.
Chauvin’s defense attorney is not commenting, and WCCO did not hear back from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
Floyd’s death sparked protests in Minneapolis and elsewhere and renewed calls for an end to police brutality and racial inequities.MORE NEWS: 1 Killed, 2 Seriously Injured In Head-On Collision Near Hinckley
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Former officers Thao, Kueng and Lane are each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Thao, Kueng and Lane are scheduled to stand trial together beginning Aug. 23.
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