Judge threatens gag orders, moving Minneapolis officer trials due to public comments on case

The former Minneapolis Police Officers accused of killing George Floyd made court appearances in downtown Minneapolis Monday where a judge set a trial date for next year and warned public officials to stop talking about the case publicly. 

The Hennepin County judge made it clear to public officials and family members of the victims and officers during the hearings Monday that he will move the trial out of Hennepin County if they continue to comment on the innocence or guilt of the officers involved in this case.

“From this day forward, everyone has a warning,” the judge said, threatening a gag order or a change-in-venue.

The judge warned public officials to stop using “control or influence” and to limit their public comments. He said he “isn’t going to be happy,” if he hears more publicly.

The judge said he is open to allowing cameras in the courtroom and broadcasting of the trial. 

The judge set the trials to begin in March 2021. The next hearings in this case are scheduled for Sept. 11. 

Kueng intends to plead not guilty

A new court filing from the attorneys of Kueng show that he intends to plead not guilty due to self defense, reasonable force and authorized use of force. 

Derek Chauvin was the only one to make his appearance remotely from the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights, where he’s being held on $1 million bail.

The other three men were present in the courtroom. 

A few protesters could be seen outside the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility along with members of the international media. 

After the hearings, family of George Floyd talked to the media. 

"I think it's absolutely hideous that two of them are walking around free and my nephew will never have the chance to be free ever again," said his uncle from South Dakota. "It's sad as hell." 

The court proceedings come about a month after 46-year-old Floyd was held down at the neck by Chauvin’s knee for more than 7 minutes. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder among several other charges. The other three face aiding and abetting charges.

Former officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng are both out on bail. Tou Thao is still in the Hennepin County Jail.