The judge presiding over the cases of four fired Minneapolis police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd issued a gag order Thursday, after some of the defense attorneys discussed the case with reporters.
Attorneys and others who speak to the media “will increase the risk of tainting a potential jury pool and will impair all parties’ right to a fair trial,” Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said.
Among the comments spurring the gag order were those by Earl Gray, attorney for former officer Thomas Lane, in interviews with ABC affiliate KSTP and the Star Tribune newspaper.
Gray said charges against Lane should be dismissed because he didn’t know a killing was being committed.
“It’s not a case where he’s standing by watching another cop pounding on somebody’s head,” the newspaper quoted Gray as saying.
Gray also said that Lane, who had been on the job only four days, had called an ambulance, jumped into it and helped with cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on the way to a hospital, where Floyd was pronounced dead May 25.
The gag order bars disclosing — directly or through third parties — “any information, opinions, strategies, plans or potential evidence that relate to any of the above-captioned cases, either to the media or members of the general public,” the judge wrote.
On Tuesday, Gray filed court papers seeking to dismiss charges against Lane of aiding and abetting a murder.
Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng face the same charges of aiding and abetting Derek Chauvin, the white officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes until the unarmed African American became unresponsive.
Chauvin faces second and third-degree murder charges.
They had arrested Floyd on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill.
The four former officers each face up to 40 years behind bars. Trial is set to begin March 8, 2021.
Bystander video of Floyd’s death stunned and horrified Americans, igniting protests and riots in cities across the country and sparking a national debate on racism and police violence. AFP