Two of the former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death have had their trial delayed by a judge who believes the case’s recent publicity would make it difficult for jurors to remain impartial, ABC News reports.
Per Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill’s order, ex-cops Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng won’t face trial until January 5, 2023. Before the delay, Thao and Kueng were charged with aiding and abetting in murder and manslaughter and expected in court next week.
The decision follows the February convictions of Thao, Kueng, and fellow former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane who recently struck a plea deal with prosecutors.
Cahill said pretrial publicity from these events would make it difficult to select an “unbiased” jury at this time.
"These two recent events and the publicity surrounding them are significant in [that] it could make it more difficult for jurors to presume Thao, 35, and Kueng, 28, innocent of the state charges," Cahill’s ruling reads.
According to the judge, delaying the trial will "diminish the impact of this publicity on the defendants' right and ability to receive a fair trial from an impartial and unbiased jury.”
Lane, Thao, and Kueng were the three defendants convicted by a federal jury on civil rights charges. Jurors found the three former cops violated Floyd’s civil rights by failing to intervene or give medical assistance as Derek Chauvin fatally knelt on the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for over nine minutes on May 25, 2020.
Last month, Lane pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, and in exchange, prosecutors dismissed his top charge.
It is unknown whether plea agreements will be negotiated for Kueng and Thao, ABC News reports.