(CNN)Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, will be tried separately from the other officers because of the ongoing pandemic, according to a Hennepin County District Court ruling.
The three other officers, who are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, will be tried together starting on August 23, Judge Peter Cahill ruled on Tuesday.The judge ruled the “physical limitations” of the county’s largest courtroom in Minneapolis “make it impossible to comply with Covid-19 physical restrictions in a joint trial involving all four defendants beginning March 8.”Prospective jurors in George Floyd's murder trial are asked to weigh in on Black Lives Matter protestsChauvin will be tried on charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25 death — which was caught on video and became part of a rallying cry for police brutality around the country. Videos of the incident show Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd told Chauvin and three other officers that he couldn’t breathe.Read MoreJury selection in Chauvin’s trial will take place March 8 to 26, according to the ruling. Opening statemen’s will begin “no earlier than March 29,” the judge wrote. The other officers — Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd, and Tou Thao, who stood nearby — will “remain joined for trial” in the summer. JUST WATCHEDThe Death of George Floyd: A TimelineReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
The Death of George Floyd: A Timeline 07:00Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, declined to comment on the ruling. Kueng’s attorney, Thomas C. Plunkett, also declined comment. CNN has sought comment from attorneys for the other officers. The ruling said, “COVID-19 continues to be a public health emergency. Physical spacing limitations and mask requirements continue. While the State believes the situation will be greatly improved by June due to vaccinations, the Court is not so optimistic given news reports detailing problems with the vaccine rollout.”Judge orders one trial for four ex-cops charged in George Floyd's killing, keeps case in MinneapolisProsecutors had filed a motion for continuance at the end of December, asking the court to move the trial to June 7 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Chauvin in October was allowed to live in a neighboring state due to safety concerns stemming from his involvement in the Floyd’s death.He posted $1 million bail and was released from custody. He was allowed to leave the state while he awaits trial, according to court records. As part of the order, he must keep his cell phone on him at all times.Chauvin, Kueng, Lane and Thao have been fired.Cahill had ruled in November that the four officers be tried at the same time. He said that holding a single proceeding for the four officers would ensure that jurors understand “all of the evidence and the complete picture of Floyd’s death.””And it would allow this community, this State, and the nation to absorb the verdicts for the four Defendants at once,” Cahill wrote in that ruling.