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Three Minneapolis cops charged in George Floyd death want their charges DISMISSED


Lawyers for three of the Minneapolis cops charged for the death of George Floyd have filed motions to dismiss their cases, claiming leaked plea-deal negotiations with Derek Chauvin will ‘taint’ the jury pool.

The three ex-officers – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane – have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.   

The former cops are scheduled to stand trial on August 23, separately from the 44-year-old Chauvin – who was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter after he was caught on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

Last week, The New York Times revealed that Chauvin had agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder just days after Floyd’s death. 

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Ex-officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Kiernan Lane are awaiting trial for the murder of George Floyd

Last week, The New York Times revealed that Derek Chauvin agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder just days after Floyd's death

Last week, The New York Times revealed that Derek Chauvin agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder just days after Floyd’s death

Officials have said security in Minneapolis will be boosted ahead of the trial for Chauvin, who is accused of murdering Floyd, pictured

Officials have said security in Minneapolis will be boosted ahead of the trial for Chauvin, who is accused of murdering Floyd, pictured

The terms of the deal were not known until the Times story. 

Now, the three former cops’ lawyers argue that Minnesota’s attorney general either ‘directly or indirectly’ leaked the details of the plea agreement to the outlet – thereby making a fair trial for their clients impossible when it comes to picking a jury. 

Thao’s attorney Robert Paule filed a motion in Hennepin County District Court on  Tuesday that was obtained by the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

In the motion, Paule asked that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and prosecutors Matthew Frank and Neal Katyal to attend a hearing to face sanctions for allegedly ‘directly or indirectly’ leaking ‘highly prejudicial information.’

Paule argued the information about Chauvin’s now-canceled plea deal could ‘irreversibly taint the jury pool’ and would deny Thao ‘his constitutional right to a fair trial by impartial jurors,’ according to the motion. 

Floyd, on the ground, was arrested for using a counterfeit $20 bill in a grocery store in Minneapolis. Chauvin, pictured in uniform, is charged with second-degree murder

Floyd, on the ground, was arrested for using a counterfeit $20 bill in a grocery store in Minneapolis. Chauvin, pictured in uniform, is charged with second-degree murder

Under the terms of the deal, Chauvin would have faced more than 10 years in prison to avoid conviction on federal civil rights charges, the Times reported.

But it’s now moot because the deal fell apart when former U.S. Attorney General William Barr rejected it, saying it deal was too lenient, three anonymous law enforcement sources told the Times.

On June 10, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said negotiations with Chauvin had been underway but fell apart, ABC News reported at the time.  

Chauvin now faces trial, which begins next month. 

Minneapolis leaders announced on Wednesday they are bolstering security measures in the city, including bringing thousands of National Guardsmen and additional police officers for Chauvin’s March 8 trial.  

Meanwhile, Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, filed a second motion on Tuesday also seeking for the case to be dismissed and calling for sanctions against AG Ellison, Frank and Katyal, the prosecutors.

Plunkett accused them of ‘prosecutorial misconduct’ and trying to ‘cheat’ the defendants from due process by allegedly mishandling how prosecutors shared evidence with defense attorneys.

‘Leaking prejudicial information mere days before trial is loathsome and underhanded. The State’s conduct has been pervasive, malicious and an affront to the dignity of the Office of the Attorney General,’ the motion reads.

The state’s attorney general, Ellison, defended his office’s handling of the case, saying in a statement: ‘It’s sad that the defense would stoop to peddling baseless conspiracy theories rather than prepare a serious defense of their client to address the grave crimes with which he is charged.’

Cell phone video footage shows George Floyd on the ground shows him on the floor as Derek Chauvin kneels on his neck

Cell phone video footage shows George Floyd on the ground shows him on the floor as Derek Chauvin kneels on his neck

In anticipation of the trial, the city has already started installing a security perimeter around the Hennepin County Government Center and City Hall (pictured on Wednesday)

In anticipation of the trial, the city has already started installing a security perimeter around the Hennepin County Government Center and City Hall (pictured on Wednesday) 

‘Unlike the defense, we are confident in our case and look forward to presenting it to a jury,’ he wrote.        

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, has filed documents sharing his ‘absolute anger and frustration’ with how prosecutors handled the discovery process, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.  

Nelson, however, has not yet weighed in on the leak of the reported plea deal.

Lane’s attorney Earl Gray filed a motion Wednesday asking to join on to the motions filed by lawyers for Thao and Kueng, the outlet reported.     

During the encounter with Floyd, Lane allegedly held Floyd’s legs while Kueng was positioned on his back and Thao held off angry bystanders who witnessed Floyd’s death, prosecutors said.              

Jury selection in Chauvin’s trial is scheduled to begin on March 8 with opening statements scheduled to begin March 29.

The city has already started installing a security perimeter around the Hennepin County Government Center, City Hall and nearby buildings.

Barricades are seen around City Hall in preparation for Chauvin's March 8 trial

Barricades are seen around City Hall in preparation for Chauvin’s March 8 trial 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said law enforcement presence in the city will increase in coming weeks and will peak during the trial, with the help of up to 2,000 National Guard members and 1,100 law enforcement officers from 12 agencies.

‘No one is going to give away the ghost on exactly how many, and who is going to be where and when, because that’s just not good strategic planning,’ National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Scott Hawks said of the preparations.

‘But what I can say is that it will flex and those numbers are certainly a number that has been discussed,’ 

On Monday, the Democratic-controlled Minnesota House pulled a bill that would have created a $35million fund to bolster security during Chauvin’s trial. 

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Minnesota Governor Tim Walz had highlighted the proposal for the $35million fund.

‘We know we can’t predict every public safety challenge that may arise, but we can and must be prepared to protect Minnesotans’ safety,’ Walz tweeted.

Frey said Wednesday that its time to pass that measure, noting that Minneapolis has seen a dramatic loss in revenue due to COVID-19.

‘There is no place for gamesmanship or politics over these next couple of months in ensuring the city of Minneapolis is safe,’ he said. 



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