MINNEAPOLIS, MN — With the trial in the death of George Floyd set to begin in early March, prosecutors reportedly requested the proceedings be postponed until June, citing the coronavirus pandemic and the need for people to be vaccinated first.
Gatherings would be "substantially safer in June 2021," Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist named among President-Elect Joe Biden's coronavirus advisors, wrote in an affidavit supporting the state's request for a postponement, according to The Star Tribune. Emanuel said millions of Americans would receive the COVID-19 vaccine between March and June.
Prosecutors said the more people vaccinated, the less likely the trial would pose a risk to those involved and create potential delays caused by an outbreak of the virus, The Star Tribune reported.
An attorney for one of the officers charged in the case had already asked a judge to delay the trial, in December arguing the state presented its information inappropriately.
Four officers were arrested in the death of Floyd, 44, of Oakdale, who died in police custody on Memorial Day 2020 after authorities were called to the Cup Foods store on 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis for a report of a "forgery in progress."
Police were told a suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence. After 8 p.m. on May 25, two officers arrived and found Floyd in his car. He was ordered to step out and was arrested.
In a now-viral video of the arrest, Floyd is heard telling officers "I can't breathe" while being forced down onto the street. He also asks for water.
Former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin — who put his knee on Floyd's neck — was charged with second-degree manslaughter and second-degree unintentional murder while committing a felony. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, including after he went motionless.
He was arrested by agents from the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on May 29. Chauvin was released in early October from the state correctional facility in Oak Park Heights after posting $1 million in bond.
Officers Tou Thao, Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, who were also at the scene, were fired the next day and have since been criminally charged with aiding and abetting unintentional second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
While Chauvin's attorney had asked for a delay in December, Lane's attorney objected to the state's request to postpone the trial, WCCO/CBS Minneapolis reported Friday, saying the defense was prepared to make its case in March, noting the questionnaires had already been sent out.
Before Christmas, officials mailed questionnaires to potential jurors, asking things like whether they had participated in demonstrations and if they had any police training.
Floyd's death sparked protests across the globe calling for racial justice and police reform.
Patch editor William Bornhoft contributed to this article.