It’s been nearly two years since George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer and while the most concerning aspects of his case have been resolved—because Derek Chauvin has been thoroughly brought to justice—the story isn’t concluded because the fates of three more officers are still up in the air.
On Monday, prosecutors revealed that they offered plea deals to former officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, according to NBC News. The specifics of the deals were not revealed by lead prosecutor Matthew Frank outside of the fact that all three defendants received the same deal, that the deals were offered on March 22—after the trio was convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights in a federal trial— and that they all ultimately rejected the deals.
This was all revealed during a hearing that was mostly about Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill deciding if whether he has the authority to allow live video coverage of the upcoming state trial in which the three officers are charged with aiding and abetting manslaughter and murder in Floyd’s case. That trial is set to begin in June.
Cahill took the rare step of allowing live audiovisual coverage of Chauvin’s murder trial last year, making an exception to the normal rules of Minnesota courts. He cited the extenuating circumstance of the need to balance protecting participants from COVID-19 against the constitutional requirement for a public trial.
Now that the U.S. has entered a new phase of living with the coronavirus, Cahill must decide whether to allow the same sort of access for the trial of Thao, Lane and Kueng. He did not rule during their pretrial hearing, and said he won’t until after the Minnesota Judicial Council — a panel of leading judges and court administrators — meets Thursday to discuss the issue.
As for the plea deals made to the defendants, Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, basically said there’s no point in negotiating deals when the former officers still don’t know what their sentences will be regarding their federal convictions.
Meanwhile, media owners just want cameras in the building.
The public is just not going to understand why they got to watch that one gavel to gavel and they won’t be able to watch this one,” said Attorney Leita Walker, who represents a coalition of media organizations, including The Associated Press, according to NBC. Walker urged Cahill to allow video coverage arguing that since Chauvin’s trial was televised, the same should be done for the three officers who are accused of helping him commit murder.
Suki Dardarian, senior managing editor and vice president of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, agrees.
“I think live streaming that trial enabled people here and around the world to see the inner workings of a system that was handling one of the most important trials of our time,” she said, referring to Chauvin’s trial.
Either way, Cahill is still deciding on whether or not he even has the power to allow cameras in the courtroom.
“I’m still sworn to uphold the law,” he said.
So, it looks like we’re just going to have to wait and see if we’re going to be able to watch the upcoming trial.