Judge: Floyd’s past arrest details can’t be used at trial

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Information on George Floyd’s previous arrests cannot be used in the trials of four former Minneapolis cops accused of his death, but jurors will be allowed to hear details of two previous incidents involving the officer who knelt at Floyd’s neck, a judge ruled.

In an order dated Monday and made public on Tuesday, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said he would explain his decisions at a later date.

Floyd, who was black and handcuffed, died on May 25 after Constable Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death was captured in a widely viewed bystander video that sparked protests, sometimes violent, that have spread around the world.

Chauvin and the three other officers who participated in Floyd’s arrest were fired. Chauvin is charged with second degree murder and manslaughter. Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao are accused of aiding and abetting these crimes.

Prosecutors had asked Cahill to allow them to present evidence that showed Chauvin had used neck or head and upper body ties seven times previously, including four times where prosecutors say he went too far. .

Cahill has ruled that prosecutors could not bring up most of these earlier cases during Chauvin’s trial, but they can notify the jury of a June 2017 arrest in which Chauvin restrained a woman by placing her knee on her. neck while she was lying on the floor.

The judge also ruled that prosecutors could inform jurors of an August 2015 incident in which Chauvin saw other officers place a suicidal and intoxicated man in a lateral recovery position after using a stun gun on him. Prosecutors noted that the police received a commendation after medical professionals said the man could have died if they had extended his detention. Cahill said prosecutors can only mention it if they can provide clear and compelling evidence that Chauvin was present when the medical professional made the remarks.

Defense attorneys had requested permission to provide details of Floyd’s previous arrests, including an arrest in May 2019 in which they said he acted in a manner similar to his behavior on the day of his arrest. dead. They also wanted to present evidence of a previous arrest for armed robbery in Texas. In court documents, Lane’s attorney described Floyd as a former convict, a violent defendant and a liar.

An attorney for Floyd’s family had called the defense comments a character assassination. Legal experts have told The Associated Press that an approach to victim liability is a common defense strategy and can influence public opinion outside of court, but past incidents cannot be brought to court. court just to defame people.

Cahill’s order also denies the state’s request to report previous workplace incidents involving Thao and Kueng, again without providing a reason.

Chauvin’s trial is due to start on March 8. The trial of the remaining defendants is due to begin in August.

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