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George Floyd judge warns he may move trials if officials keep talking about case | US news

A Minnesota judge on Monday warned that he was likely to move the trials of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s killing out of Minneapolis if public officials and attorneys do not stop talking publicly about the case.

Judge Peter Cahill stopped short of issuing a gag order on attorneys, but he said one is likely if public statements continue.

The Hennepin county judge added that such a situation would also make him likely to grant a change-of-venue motion if one is filed.

“The court is not going to be happy about hearing about the case in three areas: media, evidence and guilt or innocence,” Cahill said.

It was the second pre-trial hearing for the officers, who were fired after Floyd’s 25 May death, then charged.

Derek Chauvin, 44, is charged with second-degree murder and other counts, and was filmed by a bystander kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, as members of the public and Floyd himself pleaded with him. Thomas Lane, 37, J Alex Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, are charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin.

Minneapolis’s mayor, Jacob Frey, had called for the officers to be charged after the death and the city police chief Medaria Arradondo said Floyd’s death was “murder”.

Cahill on Monday asked assistant attorney general Matthew Frank to use his influence to keep public officials silent, warning that if they continued to discuss the case publicly, then to ensure a fair trial he would probably “have to pull [trials] out of Hennepin county and they need to be aware of that”.

Frank replied that the attorneys have no control over public officials.

Chauvin attended Monday’s hearing via a video link while the three other officers appeared in person. None of the four officers entered a plea on Monday.

At the next hearing, on 11 September, Cahill could decide whether the four officers will be tried together or separately. The first trial date was set for 8 March, 2021.

Cahill is also considering whether cameras will be allowed in the courtroom.

Bail for Chauvin was earlier set at $1.25m or $1m under certain conditions, while for the other three it was set at $750,000-$1m each.

Chauvin and Thao, 34, remain in custody, while Kueng, 26, and Lane, 37, have been released on conditional bond.

The officers were responding to a call about a man allegedly trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a store, and they attempted to arrest Floyd.

Protesters at the Black Lives Matter and Pride march in New York at the weekend. Photograph: Aurora Rose/Rex/Shutterstock

Protests continued over the weekend, more than a month on from the killing and despite fears of coronavirus dampening numbers.

A group of protesters on Monday sued Pittsburgh city and police officials, saying officers used unnecessary, excessive force to disperse a crowd protesting against police brutality and officials lied about the protesters’ behavior to justify that response.

The lawsuit alleges protesters’ constitutional rights were violated when police dispersed a crowd of about 150 people protesting against the killing of George Floyd, at one point allegedly firing blindly into a cloud of smoke and teargas with beanbags and other projectiles.

Meanwhile two women have filed an excessive force lawsuit against four Indianapolis, Indiana, police officers after video was released of officers using batons and pepper balls to subdue the women at a protest last month.

Ivore Westfield and Rachel Harding, both of Marion county, filed the federal lawsuit on Friday.

Three Indianapolis metropolitan police department officers and one sergeant all named as “John Does” are listed as defendants.

The lawsuit states that Harding and Westfield were approached for violating curfew in downtown Indianapolis on 31 May but that they remained passive and cooperative with officers.

Video of the arrest, recorded by WISH-TV, shows Westfield, who is black, being held from behind by a white male officer, escaping his grasp and then being surrounded by several other officers.

There were audible pops and several clouds of spray near Westfield, which the lawsuit contends were caused by detonated pepper balls. Two officers struck her with batons until she fell to the ground, and she was then pinned face-down by a baton at the back of her neck.

And a man gunned down during a Louisville, Kentucky, protest on Saturday over the police killing of Breonna Taylor in March was remembered at a vigil for amplifying calls for peace and helping victims of racial injustice.

Flowers and candles lined a makeshift memorial at Jefferson Square Park for Tyler Gerth, 27, who was fatally shot on Saturday.

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