MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota prosecutors and a defense attorney for one of two former Minneapolis police officers who still face a state trial in George Floyd’s killing made dueling requests for a new trial date.
Ultimately, on Tuesday morning, Judge Peter Cahill decided to move it to a new start date of Oct. 24. This comes after the state requested a speedy trial on behalf of Floyd’s family. Their trial was supposed to start earlier this month, but Cahill had earlier postponed it until January.
Kueng’s defense attorney had sought a delay until April.
Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng are charged with aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter. Thao and Kueng already were convicted of federal counts of violating Floyd’s rights.
The killing of Floyd, who was Black, sparked immediate protests in Minneapolis that spread around the U.S. and beyond in a reckoning over police brutality and discrimination involving people of color. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who pinned Floyd’s neck to the pavement with his knee for more than 9 minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and eventually grew still, was convicted last year of murder.
Thao held back onlookers at the scene. Kueng helped restrain Floyd.
State prosecutor Matthew Frank on Friday had requested a speedy trial on behalf of Floyd’s family, which under Minnesota law could have meant mid-August. Kueng’s defense attorney, Tom Plunkett, followed with a request Sunday for a longer delay — until April — because of a scheduling conflict.
Attorneys for all sides told Cahill they agreed to the Oct. 24 start date for jury selection. The judge also scheduled a hearing on pretrial motions for Sept. 26-27.
Frank told the court that it would have been “traumatic” for the Floyd family to push the trial date out farther. Not only was their loved one killed by police officers, he said, they’ve had to watch the video of his dying minutes “time and time again in the media and throughout the trial process.”
Thao and Kueng have already been convicted of federal counts of violating Floyd’s rights. Their former colleague, Thomas Lane, was also convicted on a federal count and pleaded guilty in May to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. All three are free pending their federal sentencing hearings, which have not been set.
Cahill also presided over last year’s trial of Chauvin, who was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 22 1/2 years. Chauvin has been in prison since that conviction. He also pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge.