A Minnesota judge removed a gag order against the four Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd, citing their inability to defend themselves against negative publicity.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said he still expects all attorneys involved with the case to follow the legal rules of disclosure of information. Cahill also said he would consider the news media coalition’s request to make the body camera footage more widely available.
All four police officers were fired after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody on May 25, after former police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes, despite pleas from Floyd that he could not breathe.
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Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The three other officers also on the scene were Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Kueng, all of who have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Body camera footage was submitted to the court by Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, as part of a request to have Lane’s case dismissed. Gray reportedly said he wanted the videos to be made public, which prompted Cahill’s order barring anyone involved in the case from discussing it.
The defense attorneys for all four men objected to the initial gag order.
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Cahill also made the body cam footage available for in-person, appointment only viewings – a move that Media attorney Leita Walker objected to, citing violations of the First Amendment and laws that permit public access to records.
Court records are considered open for public access with few exceptions. Prosecutors reportedly said a court can enforce restrictions if they believe it will affect the fair and impartial application of justice.
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The judge further ruled that he would not hold Attorney General Keith Ellison in contempt of the court, rejecting the request made by two other attorneys following Ellison’s announcement that additional attorneys would assisting the prosecution.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.