George Floyd case pre-trial hearing: No decision on motions to dismiss charges, change venue, combine cases

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said did not address the motions to dismiss the charges against the former Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd at Friday’s motions hearing.

Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng were all in court for the 9 a.m. hearing, which was held at the Hennepin County Family Justice Center. The hearing, which lasted a little over three hours, gave the state and defense attorneys a chance to present oral arguments to Judge Cahill about motions they have filed in the case. 

MORE: Timeline of George Floyd case, from Memorial Day to Labor Day

Motions to dismiss charges not addressed

Cahill said he would not address the motions to dismiss the charges against the officers at Friday's hearing. 

Attorneys for Lane and Thao had both filed motions to dismiss the charges against their clients, arguing a lack of evidence to establish probable cause. 

No decision on combining cases

Cahill did not rule on whether to join all four cases in into one prosecution, a motion which had been filed by the state. 

No decision on moving trial location

The judge also said he wants to wait on a change of venue for the trials. He said the court plans to reach out to a pool of Hennepin County jury very early, sending out a questionnaire and seeing what the pool situation is as related to pre-trial publicity. He said a change of venue motion does not have to be decided until the trial itself. 

Hennepin County Attorney taken off trial

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill disqualified Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and three other attorneys in his office from participating in the trial. Cahill made the decision because the four prosecutors are now witnesses in the case because of a private meeting they had with the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. 

Judge anticipates 6-week trial

Cahill said he anticipates the trial unfolding over six weeks with two weeks for jury selection and four week's for the trial itself.   

Chauvin, the officer seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he cried out that he could not breathe, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers involved—Thao, Lane and Kueng—are charged with two counts of aiding and abetting. 

Friday's hearing is the first time Chauvin is appearing in court in-person after making his previous appearances over a video feed from the Oak Park Heights prison.

A spokesperson for the Hennepin County District Court said Friday’s hearing was moved to the Family Justice Center, the COVID-19 pandemic. They said they anticipate all future hearings in the case to be held there.