Prosecutors appeal ruling that split trials in Floyd's death

Ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin appears in on closed-circuit television.
In this courtroom sketch, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin appears in on closed-circuit television from a maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights, Minn., in June 2020 during a hearing before Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill in Minneapolis. Prosecutor Matthew Frank, second from right, and defense attorney Eric Nelson, right, face the judge.
Cedric Hohnstadt via AP 2020

Prosecutors in Minnesota on Thursday appealed a judge's ruling that split the trials of four Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd's death and kept the first trial scheduled to start in March.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled earlier in January that Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd's neck last May even as he said he couldn't breathe, would go on trial March 8.

Cahill also ruled that the other three officers on the scene would be tried later, citing courtroom space limitations that would make social distancing difficult during the coronavirus pandemic.

Attorney General Keith Ellison is prosecuting the officers, who all were fired soon after Floyd's death. Cahill denied prosecutors’ request to reconsider his ruling and to try all four officers at once this summer, when the COVID-19 pandemic may have faded.

Prosecutors' arguments for a single trial also included that multiple trials would traumatize witnesses and the community. They also said the evidence against all four officers is similar. On Thursday, they asked the state's Court of Appeals to schedule oral arguments.

Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed chest-down on the street. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while the other three former officers are charged with aiding and abetting.

The other officers’ trial is set to start Aug. 23.

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