Judge lifts gag order against officers in Floyd case

Judge lifts gag order against officers in Floyd case
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A Minnesota judge on Tuesday lifted a gag order that restricted comments from attorneys and others associated with the criminal case concerning the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill vacated the order after the move was met with pushback from a coalition of news organizations and attorneys representing the former officers, The Associated Press reported. In making the decision, Cahill said that he agreed with the argument from defense attorneys that a gag order would unfairly prevent their clients from addressing negative press reports.

"The gag order didn't work," Cahill said, according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune. "If anything it may have exacerbated the issue."

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Cahill, however, did not rule on motions requesting the public release of body-camera footage from the arrest of Floyd, the Star Tribune noted.

The videos are only available to the public by appointment, which media organizations claim violates state law on access to public records. Multiple news outlets detailed what the body-cam footage showed last week after being granted access to it.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd said, "I cannot breathe." Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter; the other three officers involved in the arrest — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — face charges of aiding and abetting the charged crimes. 

An attorney for Lane in early July filed the police body-cam footage as part of an attempt to get his client's case dismissed. After the attorney asked for the videos to be made public, Cahill issued a gag order preventing attorneys and others to publicly address the case. 

Local and national media outlets objected to the order, saying in a statement last week that it "threatens to prevent the press and the public from obtaining meaningful information related to these highly newsworthy prosecutions." All of the defense attorneys representing the former officers objected to the order as well. 

Footage of Floyd's arrest spurred weeks of demonstrations throughout the U.S., as protestors demanded lawmakers take greater steps to address racial injustice and police brutality.

In addition to the criminal charges, attorneys representing Floyd's family have filed a civil suit against the city of Minneapolis and the four officers involved in his arrest.