Lawyer: Unruly crowd warrants venue change in Floyd case

Lawyer for cop charged in George Floyd’s killing argues that all four officers and their attorneys were assaulted by ‘violent rioters’ at a September court hearing in a bid to get their trial moved to a different county

  •  Attorney Thomas Plunkett filed a memorandum to have the George Floyd criminal trial moved from Hennepin County, Minnesota
  • Plunkett alleged that all four officers and their attorneys were harassed by ‘violent rioters’ after a September hearing 
  •  Tou Thao and his attorney, Robert Paule, were allegedly followed for several blocks by ‘jeering protesters’
  • Thomas Kiernan Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, confirmed Thursday that he was punched and threatened
  • Lane was allegedly physically assaulted as well
  •  Plunkett’s car was allegedly smashed with a bicycle that caused $2,000 worth of damage 
  • All four attorneys have requested the trial be moved because they believe news coverage caused a biased jury pool and the clients won’t get a fair trial
  • Judge Peter Cahill has not ruled on that request

An attorney for one of the former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd has reiterated his request for the trial to be moved, saying all four defendants were threatened by ‘violent rioters’ after a hearing in the case.  

Attorney Thomas Plunkett, who represents former officer J. Alexander Kueng, filed a memorandum in Hennepin County on Thursday in another attempt to move his client’s trial to a different county.

Plunkett claimed that the attorneys and their clients were harassed by ‘violent rioters’ on their way to and from the courthouse on September 11, and that at least one attorney was physically assaulted. 

‘Attorneys and Defendants were harassed upon arrival and departure from the courthouse, wrote Plunkett, according to Star Tribune.  

‘The riot following the September 11th hearing shows that it is not safe for the participants if the trial is held in Hennepin County.’   

Attorneys for all four officers (left to right) – Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Kiernan Lane – have asked that the upcoming George Floyd trial be moved from Hennepin County

The attorneys’ previously argued that the news coverage surrounding the death of George Floyd (pictured) created a biased jury pool in Minneapolis

Attorneys for the other three former officers – Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane – previously filed similar venue requests for their clients as well.

Plunkett wrote that the ‘riotous crowd’ showed the men can’t get a fair trial in Hennepin County, and that ‘the Court simply cannot control the rioters and protesters who have taken to the streets of Minneapolis.’

Plunkett said Thao and his attorney, Robert Paule, were followed for several blocks by ‘jeering protesters.’

Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, confirmed Thursday that he was punched and threatened, and said he didn’t realize how dangerous the situation was until he got into a vehicle and saw the crowd.

‘I will not be walking through something like that again,’ he said. ‘That was just insane.’ 

Plunkett said Thao (pictured) and his attorney, Robert Paule, were followed for several blocks by ‘jeering protesters’

Plunkett wrote that protesters blocked Lane (pictured) as he left the court hearing and that he was physically assaulted 

Protesters blocked Lane as he walked on the street and at one point he was physically assaulted, Plunkett wrote.

Plunkett also filed a police report saying Gray was verbally threatened with death, and that someone smashed a bicycle into his vehicle, causing $2,000 in damage.  

‘No recognizable plan was in place in advance of the hearing to assure the safe and orderly entry’ of the attorneys and their clients, Plunkett wrote.

‘Mr. Chauvin, who is in custody, was subjected to a degree of humiliation by being paraded in public dressed in jail clothes and body armor,’ per Star Tribune.

Chuavin was escorted by sheriff’s deputies to the court hearing and was visible to the crowd as he entered a back entrance.

Derek Chauvin (pictured), a former Minneapolis police officer, was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter

The attorney’s argued that the international new coverage of George Floyd’s death on May 25 has created a biased local jury pool.

Floyd, a black man in handcuffs, died after a confrontation with Chuavin in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  

Footage taken by witnesses showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds while he pleaded ‘I can’t breathe!’

Cell phone footage of Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racism 

Officers Kueng, Lane and Thao were at the scene during the incident. 

Floyd eventually lost consciousness and was transported to a local hospital before he died.  

Cell phone footage of the disturbing detainment was shared to social media and directly inspired a wave of anti-police brutality, Black Lives Matter protests that continued for nearly 20 weeks. 

Chauvin was slapped with murder charges, while the three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.  

All four officers were fired from their positions at the Minneapolis Police Department. 

Plunkett further argued that holding the trial in Hennepin County would not be safe for participants, witnesses could be intimidated and jurors could be affected by chants from the crowd, which were audible during the last hearing.  

Attorneys for all four men have said pretrial publicity has made it impossible for them to receive a fair trial in Hennepin County, and they have asked for the trial to be moved. Judge Peter Cahill has not ruled on that request. 

All four men are currently scheduled to stand trial on March 8, 2021, 

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