Only one family member of George Floyd at a time will be allowed to attend the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of Floyd’s death, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said only one member of the Floyd family at a time could be in the courtroom, but different family members could take turns in the position. The same ruling applies to Chauvin’s family, Cahill wrote in his ruling.
The trial order also required all parties to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions, including standing six feet from other people and wearing masks. Although it prohibits “any mask or clothing containing a visible image, logo, letters or numbers”.
Lawyers Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a joint statement Tuesday that the past year had been “a deeply painful and moving year for every member of the Floyd family, many of whom intended to be in the room. hearing to attend this trial ”.
“While they understand the judge’s reasons for limiting attendance in the courtroom, the family is understandably disappointed with this decision. The family looks forward to the start of the trial as a crucial step on the road to justice and a step towards closing this dark chapter in their lives, ”they said in a statement.
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment on Tuesday.
The decision comes less than a week before Chauvin is tried on March 8. Chauvin faces charges of second degree murder and manslaughter. The three other officers accused of aiding and abetting Floyd’s death – Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – will be tried together in August.
In February, prosecutors sought to add third degree murder charges against Chauvin after Cahill dropped the original charge against him late last year.
About a week later, it was revealed that Chauvin had agreed to plead guilty to third degree murder within days of Floyd’s death, but then Attorney General William Barr rejected the deal.
Lacey Severins, spokesperson for the Hennepin County District Attorney’s Office, which was handling the case at the time, told NBC News at the time that “as is typical in many cases, early negotiations can take place between all parties involved ”.
“Many times a defendant will explore their options with a negotiation. It is also common for these types of discussions to take place at the start of a deal and no agreed negotiation to develop. This case was no different. The negotiations were discussed, nothing was developed, ”said Séverins.
Floyd, a black man, died in police custody on May 25. The video showed Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes while he was handcuffed and repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests against systemic racism and new calls to end police brutality and racial inequality.
The four officers accused of playing a role in Floyd’s death were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department in May.