Derek Chauvin

Derek Chauvin

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A former Minneapolis police officer who held his knee to the neck of George Floyd for several minutes will be tried separately from three other former officers accused in his death, according to scheduling orders filed Tuesday.

Derek Chauvin will stand trial alone in March while the other three former officers will be tried together in the summer, according to the orders filed in Hennepin County District Court.

Judge Peter Cahill cited the limitations of physical space during the coronavirus pandemic for his order to split the defendants' trials. It is “impossible to comply with COVID-19 physical restrictions” given how many lawyers and support personnel that four defendants say would be present, Cahill wrote.

Last week, prosecutors asked Cahill to postpone the March 8 trial to June 7 to reduce public health risks associated with COVID-19.

Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed face down on the street. Police were investigating whether Floyd used a counterfeit bill at a nearby store. In a video widely seen on social media, Floyd could be heard pleading with officer for air, saying he couldn’t breathe.

Floyd’s death sparked protests in Minneapolis and elsewhere and renewed calls for an end to police brutality and racial inequities.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Former officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Thao, Kueng and Lane are now scheduled to stand trial together beginning Aug. 23.

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