A Minnesota judge on Tuesday lifted a gag order surrounding the trial of four former police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd, CBS Minnesota reports. Although the order was lifted, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said he still expects the lawyers to follow the rules on disclosure of information.
The order was initially put in place by Cahill after Earl Gray, the lawyer representing former officer Thomas Lane, submitted body-worn camera footage to the court in an effort to get the case against his client dismissed. Gray wanted the videos to be made public, prompting Cahill to enact the gag order preventing attorneys from discussing the case, The Associated Press reports.
Lawyers representing all four ex-officers objected to the gag order. Several media organizations, including CBS Minnesota, also objected to the order and the sealing of the bodycam videos.
Cahill made the videos available to view by appointment, but a lawyer representing the coalition of media organizations argued this was basically the same as keeping the videos sealed. Cahill noted concerns that the videos could prejudice potential jurors, but the attorney argued clips of Floyd’s arrest and descriptions of the bodycam video are already available online, CBS Minnesota reported.
“We have the bystander cellphone video, we have transcripts of the body camera footage, and we have summaries from journalists who’ve watched the body camera footage by appointment, so the media coalition’s view is the media itself should be made widely available,” attorney Leita Walker said.
Cahill said he will decide within 90 days whether or not to release the videos.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Cahill also opted not to hold Attorney General Keith Ellison in contempt of court, which defense attorneys had been pursuing. Cahill decided Ellison’s statements to the press regarding the case were not an attempt to intimidate the court, CBS Minnesota reported.
Three of the former officers, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, are out on bail and appeared in person for the hearing. Derek Chauvin, who faces the most serious charge of second degree murder, appeared virtually.