Only one member of George Floyd’s family will be allowed at Derek Chauvin trial

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James Crump
·3 min read
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<p>Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, speaks during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial on 28 August 2020 in Washington, DC</p> ((Getty Images))

Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, speaks during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial on 28 August 2020 in Washington, DC

((Getty Images))

Just one member of George Floyd’s family will be allowed to attend the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, due to limitations caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Floyd died in May last year in Minnesota after Mr Chauvin knelt on his neck for close to eight minutes, sparking a summer of racial justice protests in every state across the US in opposition to police brutality against African Americans.

The officer has subsequently been charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter, with his trial scheduled to begin at the end of the month.

However, Ben Crump, who is working as an attorney for the Floyd family, confirmed on Tuesday that only one member of Mr Floyd’s and Mr Chauvin’s families will be allowed to attend the trial at any one time, following a decision from Hennepin County District judge Peter Cahill.

“After a deeply painful and emotional year, the Floyd family is understandably disappointed by this ruling,” Mr Crump tweeted on Tuesday.

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The trial management order written by Mr Cahill states that “different family members may rotate through that position, but only with the appropriate credentials to be admitted to the 18th floor”.

The attorney said that the family understands the need for limitations on the trial as it is taking place amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but expressed in a statement to Newsweek that they are “disappointed” with the decision.

Mr Crump added that the family are “looking forward to the start of the trial as a critical milestone on the path to justice and a step toward closure in this dark chapter of their lives”.

Mr Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges, with a previous charge of third-degree murder dropped by Judge Cahill at a pre-trial hearing. Prosecutors have asked for it to be reinstated, with a decision expected to be made soon.

The coronavirus pandemic had already affected the trial before Mr Cahill’s latest ruling, as the judge decided to try Mr Chauvin separately from the three other former officers charged in relation to Mr Floyd’s death.

The officers, Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, have all pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, but are not expected to stand trial until the summer due to concerns over the ability to adhere to coronavirus guidelines in the courtroom.

Minnesota’s coronavirus guidelines currently recommend that people stay six feet away from others if possible and wear facial coverings in public spaces.

Although everyone who attends Mr Chauvin’s trial will be required to wear a face mask and keep distance from others, witnesses and attorneys will be allowed to remove the coverings while speaking.

Since the start of the pandemic, Minnesota has seen more than 485,000 coronavirus and at least 6,554 deaths.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 28.6 million people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 515,195.

The Independent has contacted Mr Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J Nelson, and the office of Mr Crump for comment.

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