The four police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd will be tried in one case, a Hennepin County District Court Judge ruled Thursday. Judge Peter Cahill said his decision was in part because all the defendants facing similar charges and the joining of the cases would help jurors better understand “all the evidence and the complete picture of Floyd’s death.”
Former cop Derek Chauvin, who was seen pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck in the viral video, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Former cops Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. The defendants have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Cahill added that the joint trial “would allow the community, this State, and the nation to absorb the verdicts for these Defendants at once,” according to the ruling.
He declined to move the trial to a different location, but said he would reconsider if needed. Defense lawyers had pushed for the change of venue, saying local publicity surrounding the case could prevent the officers from getting a fair trial, and could lead to safety concerns for defendants and potential witnesses.
"The murder of George Floyd occurred in Minneapolis and it is right that the defendants should be tried in Minneapolis," Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement Thursday.
Despite Minnesota courts traditionally blocking video coverage of proceedings, Cahill granted a defense request to allow cameras in the courtroom. He ruled that full, live broadcasting of the court proceedings will be allowed, and there can be up to three cameras in the courtroom, all operated by one media organization and footage will be shared with other media outlets.
The identities of the jurors, however, will not be revealed. The jury will be fully sequestered during deliberations and the panel will be partially sequestered, court documents said.
Meanwhile Floyd’s younger brother Terrence visited a Brooklyn, New York polling station wearing a black hoodie and face mask that read “Justice for George.” The 42-year-old spent Election Day encouraging people to vote in a move he said was inspired by his late brother.
“I felt like he was talking to me,” he said, according to ABC News. “He was saying, ‘Little bro, just speak for me. Walk for me. Love for me. Get these people to understand what happened to me can happen to anybody.'"
He spent the later half of the day driving by various Brooklyn polling stations with his lawyer and a civil rights activist, speaking through a loudspeaker encouraging voters to stay motivated.
“I’m out here to let y’all know that I voted,” he said through the loudspeaker. “If you don’t vote, you cannot complain when something goes wrong.”
Gwen Carr, whose son Eric Garner died while being taken into custody by NYPD officers in 2014, joined Floyd and his team in the hours before polls closed.
Both Floyd’s and Garner’s families have worked with Joe Biden during his campaign. Biden promised racial justice and reforms amid the protests over the summer, while Floyd’s family most recently joined Biden’s family at a Sunday rally to encourage people to get out and vote.
Terrence’s sister Bridgett Floyd has even appeared in a campaign ad for Biden.
“I’m more anxious than excited,” Terrence said of the election Tuesday. “I remember when [Barack] Obama was running [for president] and everybody went out. I see that same energy now, so I’m really excited to see what happens.”