Judge Peter Cahill upheld his decision to Livestream the trial of the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd. The Hennepin County judge released his order on Friday (Dec. 18), and the Star Tribune reported that the judge said that he would allow video coverage of the trial due to immense global interest in the case, the COVID-19 pandemic, and also because of limited courthouse space.
State prosecutors argued last month that recording audio and visuals of the trial would violate court rules and scare away potential witnesses, but Cahill dismissed their concerns. The prosecution asked that the judge rescinds his previous ruling from November that will allow cameras inside the Minneapolis courtroom or to consider limiting outside access. The judge refused to change his initial ruling. He wrote that although he had granted more extensive video coverage than allowed in the state court rules, he is allowed to modify the rules “in any case to prevent manifest injustice.”
“Without question, deprivation of the constitutional rights that are the hallmarks of a public criminal trial would be a ‘manifest injustice,’ ” Cahill wrote, according to the newspaper. “The only real issue then, is whether there is a reasonable alternative to televising the trial that would vindicate the defendants’ Sixth Amendment rights and the First Amendment rights of the public and the press. The Court concludes that televising the trial is the only reasonable and meaningful method to safeguard the Sixth and First Amendment rights implicated in these cases.”
A group of media organizations have reportedly requested camera access inside the courtroom during the trial. The media companies are arguing that cameras would help with increasing transparency for the highly publicized case, especially since courtroom attendance will be limited due to the ongoing pandemic. The trial is scheduled for March.
The case has gained international attention after videos surfaced online in May of the moment when four cops placed Floyd, a Black man, in handcuffs, and he died after Derek Chauvin, a white cop, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin is facing second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter charges. Former cops J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.