A Minnesota judge denied a request from the police officers accused of killing George Floyd to allow cameras in the courtroom, saying that allowing the trial to be broadcast could potentially taint the jury pool.
As the Star Tribune reported, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill ruled on Friday that the case has already received significant pretrial attention and allowing cameras in the courtroom would be violation of the rules for courts in the state. Attorneys representing Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao had filed the motion on Thursday asking permission for pretrial and trial proceedings to be recorded.
The court filing argued that the four accused officers need transparency in order to have a fair trial.
“The Defendants argue that this relief is necessary to provide the Defendants with a fair trial in light of the State’s and other governmental actors multiple inappropriate comments and to assure an open hearing in light of the ongoing pandemic,” wrote Thomas Plunkett, who is representing Kueng but filed the motion on behalf of all four defendants.
Plunkett added that it would be necessary to broadcast the trial because a number of state and local officials have publicly criticized the actions of the former officers, adding that “unethical ‘leaks'” of information have hurt the objectivity of the case.
“These State comments have crescendoed to an extraordinary volume this week with the Chief pronouncing that ‘[w]hat happened to Mr. Floyd was murder,'” Plunkett wrote in his motion. “The State’s conduct has made a fair and unbiased trial extremely unlikely and the Defendants seek video and audio coverage to let a cleansing light shine on these proceedings. Doing otherwise allows these public officials to geld the Constitution.”
The men stand charged of killing Floyd during an encounter on Memorial Day that sparked national attention. Video showing Chauvin pressing his knee onto Floyd’s neck and leaving it there as the detained man pleaded that he could not breathe and ultimately became unresponsive captured viral interest, leading to weeks of protests that spread across the globe.
Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s attorney general who is leading the case against the four police officers, has spoken out against the idea of having cameras in the courtroom, the Star Tribune noted. Ellison said it is important to have a public trial, but added that he is worried cameras could have a harmful impact on the case, altering the way lawyers present evidence.