The federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s rights is briefly on hold. Today, according to Fox News, Judge Paul Magnuson abruptly suspended the trial after one defendant tested positive for COVID-19. If you recall, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao are accused of depriving George of his rights when they failed to give him medical aid as Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes. This was while George was handcuffed, facedown, and gasping for air.
Reports show Judge Magnuson didn’t specify who caught the virus, but a news release from the courthouse identified the infected person only as a “case participant.” Courtroom reporters said J. Alexander and Thao were present in court, while Thomas was not in attendance. Unfortunately, Thomas’ attorney declined to say whether his client was the defendant with the deadly virus.
To ensure that the other defendants in the case are COVID-19 free, reports state the defendant with COVID-19 would be tested again before the trial resumes, including all other case participants who had been near the infected individual. Judge Magnuson has also placed other social distancing guidelines to limit who can be present in the courtroom.
The limitations allow four pool reporters, a sketch artist, and a limited number of family and friends of the former officers and George Floyd’s family. In addition, everyone entering the courtroom is checked to make sure they don’t exhibit any COVID symptoms. The mask mandate is also in effect for most people in the courthouse, excluding Judge Magnuson. He made an exception for himself, citing a chronic lung condition. Witnesses will also be allowed to remove masks when testifying. While the break is needed to ensure the safety of everyone’s health, the defendants won’t have to wait too long to head back into the courtroom as the trial is expected to resume Monday.
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