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Prosecution requests speedier start for trial of former officers in George Floyd killing

Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is leading the prosecution of the two officers, has said the current trial date of Jan. 5 amounts to a delay in the justice that the Floyd family and others are seeking.

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J. Alexander Kueng, left, and Tou Thao
Courtesy / Hennepin County Sheriff's Office
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The prosecution in the trial of fired Minneapolis officers Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng is asking that the proceeding start months earlier than currently scheduled.

Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Matthew Frank wrote Friday to Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill that the filing was being made "on behalf of the family of George Floyd," who died on May 25, 2020, while under the knee of another fired officer, Derek Chauvin.

Frank cited the "speedy trial" provision under the state's court rules of criminal procedure in making his request. The one-page document offered no further elaboration.

Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is leading the prosecution of the two officers, has said the current trial date of Jan. 5 amounts to a delay in the justice that the Floyd family and others are seeking.

The U.S. and Minnesota constitutions guarantee defendants, whether jailed or not, the right to a speedy trial. State law calls for a trial to commence within 60 days of a speedy trial demand. Thao and Kueng are out on bail as their cases move forward and requested that the trial be delayed.

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Cahill has scheduled a hearing on the matter for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, when attorneys on both sides will be heard. If the speedy trial request is granted, the trial could start in mid-August.

For now, the trial is set to begin on Jan. 5, a date that was penciled into the court schedule just two weeks ago and assured that the two officers would first learn their sentences in federal court, where they were convicted of violating Floyd's civil rights for their roles in his death at the corner of 38th and Chicago.

george floyd
George Floyd. Special to The Forum.

When Cahill settled on Jan. 5, Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office has been leading the prosecution of all four officers charged in Floyd's death, released a statement that read: "It's unfortunate for the victims, the witnesses, and community that the opportunity to seek justice has been delayed."

Attorneys for Thao and Kueng did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cahill's choice of Jan. 5 for the trial to start pushed out the proceedings from what had been a June 14 trial date and gives the defendants more time to consider whether to plead guilty, as fellow fired officer Thomas Lane did last month for his role in Floyd's death while in police custody.

Kueng and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death. Lane accepted a plea deal last month, meaning he will avoid the state trial. He agreed to a sentence of three years.

Kueng, Lane and Thao were convicted in federal court in February of violating Floyd's civil rights and causing his death. They have not yet been sentenced for that conviction. Defense attorneys have said they believe the sentencing won't take place until late summer.

Chauvin still awaits sentencing for the federal conviction. He is currently serving 221⁄2 years in prison for murder and manslaughter convictions in state court for Floyd's killing.

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The government is recommending a 25-year sentence for Chauvin. He would serve the sentence concurrently with his state sentence, and in a federal prison, under recommendations in the plea agreement.

©2022 StarTribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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