Fired Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin will stand trial alone for the murder of George Floyd, a judge ruled Monday (Jan. 11). Chauvin, whose trial takes place in March, was originally scheduled to be tried alongside the three other officers charged in Floyd’s murder.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill chose the separate trial in order to maintain COVID-19 restrictions. Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
“The physical limitations of courtroom C-1856, the largest courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center, make it impossible to comply with COVID-19 physical restrictions in a joint trial involving all four defendants beginning March 8, 2021 given the number of lawyers and support personnel the parties have now advised the Court are expected to be present during trial,” reads the court decision.
The court also denied Chauvin’s request to have the case continued due to “discovered violations.” Opening statements and the commencement of the state’s case against Chauvin will begin no earlier than March 29.
Prosecutors “respectfully” disagreed with the court’s decision to try the men separately. “As we argued several months ago, and as the judge agreed in his November ruling, we believe all four defendants should be tried jointly,” Attorney General Keith Ellison said, per NBC News.
The other defendants, Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, will be tried together beginning on Aug. 23.