The death of George Floyd on May 25 while in custody of Minneapolis police sparked national outrage, with people across the country speaking out and protesting.
Now, the Hennepin County judge presiding over the case is threatening to move the trial outside of the county if officials, attorneys and relatives of Mr. Floyd continue discussing the case in public.
Judge Peter Cahill, of the Fourth Judicial District, told parties involved in the case that if he hears anything publicly about guilt or innocence, merit and evidence, he would likely pull the trials away from Hennepin County and instill a gag order. Cahill issued these orders on June 29 during the second pre-trial appearance, at which three of the four officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s case were present. Officer Derek Chauvin appeared virtually from the correctional facility where he is being held on a $1 million bail.
Gag order on public discussion is intended to preserve case
Cahill’s warning was primarily directed at public officials, some of whom have outwardly called Mr. Floyd’s death a murder. He also signified that attorneys and family members should refrain from speaking publicly in that capacity.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison was appointed to handle the prosecution. Under his jurisdiction, Chauvin is being charged with second-degree manslaughter, plus second- and third-degree murder. The other officers involved are being charged with aiding and abetting a murder. Two of those three officers are currently free on bond.
The judge’s decision to issue limitations on publicly speaking out about the case before it goes to trial comes after a whirlwind month of protests and clashes with police. Public sentiments tilt strongly against the officers, and Cahill’s move to issue the warning is an effort to ensure that all four officers are granted a fair trial with due process.
The first trial is scheduled for March 8, 2021. Another pretrial hearing is set for September 11.