The state trial of former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng for their alleged role in George Floyd’s killing has been moved up to October, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled Tuesday.
Cahill earlier this month had pushed the trial back to January 2023.
Thao and Kueng have pleaded not guilty to the charges of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
The judge’s ruling comes after competing filings from the defense and prosecution. An attorney for Kueng had asked the court to push the trial start back to April 2023, saying he was not available for a jury trial from January through March 2023. Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank requested a “speedy trial,” citing the Victims’ Rights Act.
“It’s very traumatic to have this pushed out farther and farther. I never try to compare one family’s trauma to another and it is important to remember what this family is going through,” Frank told the court Tuesday.
“The family has made a request for a speedy trial. What is being asked is for this family to wait until almost the third anniversary of George Floyd’s death,” he said. Floyd was killed in May 2020.
Jury selection will begin October 24.
Kueng’s attorney Thomas Plunkett requested the new trial date due to a scheduling conflict. He told the court he has another trial in Hennepin County. Thao’s attorney Robert Paule told the court he did not object to the new date.
Former Minneapolis Police officer Thomas Lane pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter last month as part of a plea deal. Lane is scheduled to be sentenced on September 21 on the state charge, according to the court.
Thao, Kueng and Lane were already convicted in a federal court in February of violating Floyd’s civil rights. A sentencing date has not been set in that case.
The three former officers faced state and federal charges for their actions – or lack thereof – as their colleague Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the neck and back of Floyd, who was handcuffed and lying on his stomach, for more than nine minutes.
During the arrest, Lane held down Floyd’s legs, Kueng held down Floyd’s torso, and Thao stood nearby and kept a crowd of upset bystanders back. Harrowing video taken by a bystander showed Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, desperately pleading for them to let him breathe and calling for his mother before he lost consciousness and died.
Outrage over the incident led to an international protest movement against the ways that police treat Black citizens. All four officers were fired and charged after Floyd’s death.
Chauvin was convicted last spring of Floyd’s murder in a state trial and was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.
The ex-officer pleaded guilty in December to violating Floyd’s civil rights. A federal judge accepted that plea deal last month, and Chauvin will be sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison.