MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys for two former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death are asking a judge to hold Attorney General Keith Ellison in contempt for violating a gag order.
The attorneys for Tou Thao and Thomas Lane took issue Tuesday with a news release from Ellison on Monday announcing that four “seasoned attorneys” would be helping his office prosecute the case for free.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said the release violated Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill’s gag order and amounted to “an obvious statement to the public that these ‘super stars’ believe that our clients are guilty.”
Cahill said in issuing the gag order last week that continuing pretrial publicity in the case would increase the risk of tainting the potential jury pool and “will impair all parties’ right to a fair trial.” The judge has also warned that the trial might be moved out of the county if public officials, attorneys and family members didn’t stop speaking out about the case.
Ellison’s office declined comment.
Floyd died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee against the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man’s neck for nearly 8 minutes on May 25. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder.
Thao, Lane and a third officer, J. Kueng, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. All four officers were fired the day after Floyd died.
The officers were responding to a call about a man trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby store. Floyd’s death sparked protests around the world.