A second attorney representing one of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with George Floyd’s death is asking a judge to prohibit live-streaming his client’s trial next year.
Some witnesses are reluctant to testify after seeing other witnesses treated poorly following the livestream of a co-defendant’s trial, attorney Earl Gray argued in a motion filed Wednesday.
Gray, who represents Thomas Lane, is asking Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill to ban a public livestream in order to protect Lane’s constitutional right to a fair trial.
Cahill had issued a ruling last November ordering that the trials of all four former officers charged in Floyd’s death be publicly live-streamed because the COVID-19 pandemic severely limited in-person courtroom attendance.
The trial of former officer Derek Chauvin in March and April was watched live around the world, making witnesses reluctant to testify at Lane’s trial, Gray argued.
Jurors convicted Chauvin on April 20 of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao are scheduled to stand trial together on March 7 on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Gray’s motion is nearly identical to a motion filed Tuesday by Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett.
“The defense is not yet moving for a dismissal or a further continuance based on the television of Mr. Chauvin’s trial but may need to in the future,” Gray wrote.
Gray and Plunkett both wrote that some witnesses will not cooperate with their defenses because of the treatment received by expert witnesses who testified for Chauvin’s defense.
According to both motions: Vandals left a pig’s head outside the former California home of Barry Brodd, a retired police officer who testified for Chauvin’s defense. After former Maryland chief medical examiner, Dr. David Fowler testified for Chauvin’s defense, the state said it would conduct an independent review of deaths in police custody that occurred during his tenure.
They noted that the trial could instead be live-streamed into an overflow courtroom or courtrooms so the public and media could attend.
Thao’s attorneys, Robert and Natalie Paule, have not weighed in on the issue. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, which is leading the prosecution, has objected to cameras in the courtroom.
Gray’s and Plunkett’s requests are a change from their previous stance on the issue. Attorneys for all four former officers asked last year that Cahill allow the trials to be recorded and broadcast by the media to ensure fairness because several local officials had commented about the case.