George Floyd: Gag Order Lifted, Release of Body Cam Video TBD

George Floyd: Gag Order Lifted, Release of Body Cam Video TBD

Maryam Henein By Maryam Henein

A Minnesota judge has lifted a gag order in the case against four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd but said he would take a media request to ease restrictions on viewing body camera video under advisement.

The George Floyd multi-layered psyop on May 25th catapulted us into a manufactured race war. Derek Chauvin and George Floyd both worked at the El Neuvo Rodeo. George Floyd said “I can’t breathe” (*an arguable poke at all who are self-muzzling with masks) several times while still in the cop car, and government officials like Mayor Jacob Frey, Gov. Tim Walz, and AG Keith Ellison have already called Derek a murderer or assumed this is racial, thus arguably tainting the jury pool and trialing him in the media.

On July 9th, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter A Cahill issued a gag order against former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng. This despite the fact that the officers with the exception of Lane haven’t shared their side of the story.

What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

As a result attorneys for the four police officers  on July 13th. All four officers are charged in the death of George Floyd. Meanwhile, a coalition of media players asked to release body camera footage given the nature of this high profile case and the fact that the RONA has made it quite difficult to cover the case or view discovery.

On July 21st, in an 18th-floor courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center, Judge Cahill lifted the gag order and stated that he would soon rule on the release of the police body camera video.

In attendance was ‘former officer” J. Alexander Kueng, who was dressed in black pants and a gray vest over a light blue shirt with a blue tie, reported pool reporter Holly Bailey of The Washington Post. Kueng arrived at roughly 2:40 pm, with his attorney Thomas Plunkett. Kueng wore a disposable blue face mask, which I liken to a useless diaper worn on the face. He passed by the pool reporters, looking at the ground, and then took a seat on a cushioned bench outside the courtroom, which was not yet open.

A few seconds later, Thomas Lane, dressed in a gray suit and a gray fabric face mask, arrived with his attorney Earl Gray. He leaned against a wall and appeared to try to make eye contact with Kueng, nodding at him. The men did not speak. Kueng sat quietly, his hands clasped, his eyes sometimes closed.

Attorneys for the former police officers as well as for the media coalition were allowed to enter the courtroom at 2:50 pm. Inside, Lane and Kueng were seated two chairs apart in the back row of the jury box. Tou Thao, dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and blue striped tie, was seated two seats away from Keung.

For several minutes, court officers tried to connect via a Zoom meeting with the state prison. There were technical issues, but right at 3 pm, Chauvin appeared on the screen. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. He was seated at a conference room table, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and wearing a face mask. Jesus. He appeared to lean forward to hear better. Asked if he could hear and see the proceedings, he replied, “Yes your honor.”

Lane and Kueng looked over at him on the screen. Thao did not.

Thao, Lane, and Kueng, are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. All four officers were fired.

Cahill arrived in the courtroom without a mask. “You can remove your mask when you speak. I apologize, I forgot mine in chambers.”

“Is there anyone who wants the gag order to stay in place? Speak now or forever hold your peace,” Cahill began.

Judge Cahill then stated that the lawyers for the defendants had made a good point in their objections to the gag order that they have a right to respond to “pretrial statements to meet negative publicity.”

“The gag order didn’t work,” Cahill said, suggesting that attorneys had to “tiptoe” around the rules to talk to reporters and that the media had been relying on “anonymous sources and other material,” which stirred up as much pre-trial publicity as ever.

“The gag order is vacated,” he said.

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Cahill then asked Leita Walker, an attorney representing the media, to speak about their request to release the body camera video. But Cahill said he first had a question about their filing in the case, in which they cited state lawmakers who would not be allowed to speak publicly about the case. The memo cited Gov. Tim Walz and three Minneapolis area lawmakers.

Cahill repeatedly pressed why the media coalition had picked those specific lawmakers out of the “50 or so” state lawmakers who represent the Minneapolis area. Walker said she understood they were picked because they represented the district.

“Tell me why they are the most relevant,” Cahill repeatedly asked, before remarking that these lawmakers happened to represent where he lives in Plymouth.

“It seems like the media coalition is trying to doxx me personally,” Cahill said.

Walker seemed stunned and repeatedly told the judge this was not the case. She said an associate had picked the lawmakers at random and that she had been on vacation had not personally vetted names in the filing. “It was not intentional,” she said.

“As you can tell, it’s not appreciated,” Cahill replied. He mentioned the attack on , the New Jersey federal judge last weekend, in which her son was killed and her husband was shot.

“I deeply apologize,” Walker said. “This has nothing to do with your honor.”

“I expect you will file a supplemental brief on why you picked those officials,” Cahill said.

Keith Ellison| Contempt of Court?

Though Cahill lifted the gag order, Robert Paule, an attorney for Tou Thao, asked to speak. Taking the podium, he referred to his motion calling for AG Keith Ellison to be held in contempt. He pointed to the AG press release announcing the four pro-bono attorneys now working as assistant AG’s in the case, calling out what he said was “brazenness and hubris” on Ellison’s part to issue a press release within days of the gag order. He said Ellison knew better.

Paule also asked that the venue of the trial be moved “on the state’s dime.”

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“I am thinking of asking for a change of venue on the state’s dime. They have caused all the pretrial prejudicial publicity. This is a case like none other. These state officers know better,” Paule said.

Cahill said he thought the Ellison press release was “innocuous.” “I can’t really sanction the attorney general even if I wanted to,” he said. He added, “It was an innocuous extra-judicial statement about his team and I wasn’t intimidated by it, even if that was the intent,” Cahill said.

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But he advised prosecutor Matthew Frank that all of the new attorneys in the case are now under the same code as other lawyers in the case to operate under ethics rule 3.8 and that applies to their firms as well.

In regards to the body cam video that the media would like to access, Cahill first asked Frank if he thought the footage filed in court would be “admissible” in the trial. Frank said yes.

Walker, speaking for the media, read loosely from the memorandum attorneys had filed in court arguing the videos are public record and should be allowed to be copied by the media and released publicly. She cited the logistical COVID19-related issues from media access last week, in which journalists had to make an appointment with the court and were allotted an hour to watch two videos that in total added up to an hour and 10 minutes. Between sessions, the court staff has to disinfect the computers against the ‘vicious virus.’

Listen to with the MN judicial branch.

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“We are dealing here with evidence that is central to a criminal case that (spawned) the largest civil rights movement in the history of the country,” she said. “And this court is giving journalists an hour to watch it.”

Cahill questioned her on concerns about how it might taint a potential jury. Walker cited the bystander video that has been viewed “millions of times.”

I think she is referring to 17-year-old Darnella Frazier who has raised more than  on GoFundme for the ‘trauma’ she experienced. Where is that money really going when you understand the root of Black Lives Matter? See 

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“People have already seen George Floyd die at the hands of police,” Walker said. “The cat is out of the bag. We have seen it.”

(*I’d like to add that this is a slightly skewed statement. Surely people do not just believe everything they see on camera? I’ve digging what I believe is a multi-layered psyop, and there is MUCH more than meets the eye. Again what happened to innocent until proven guilty?)

There was a sigh from an unknown defense attorney at this remark. No reaction from Lane, Kueng, or Thao. On the screen, Chauvin appeared to be looking down at the conference room table.

Cahill cited concerns about the internet if the video is released, how potential jurors “get their summons” and might want to study up on the case. “It will be there for them to watch,” he said. In other high profile cases, he said, the court had been able to space out the trial and with time people had forgotten specifics. “The problem is the internet never forgets,” he said.

I would also argue here that is not true when many of us witness that the Ministry of Truth scrubs and deletes information.

“Everyone is afraid of the internet,” Walker said. “If you allow the internet to figure into the decision, she said, “you shut down access in every case the public is interested in.”

Walker added that if the court didn’t grant access, the media would file for public access through the state attorney general’s office because the videos fall under state public records.

“Give me a week and you probably won’t have to wait (on the AG),” Cahill replied.

Earl Gray, Lane’s attorney, asked to speak in favor of releasing the videos. He said the media coverage from reporters who had viewed the body camera footage in court has been unfair to his client. He also made several claims about what the video showed, which the media omitted, including how Floyd was “stuffing counterfeit bills” in between the seats of his car.

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“He swallowed drugs,” Gray claimed, holding a copy of the Star Tribune. “You could see that Mr. Floyd turned his head and put drugs in his mouth. It’s probably one of the reasons he died, but that’s not in there.”

Cahill asked if there were any objections from any of the attorneys to releasing the body camera video. There were none.

Matthew Frank asked to speak and said Gray was attempting “to try the case in the media” by filing exhibits like the body camera video to get them out into the public.

“Mr. Gray tried to put these pieces of these pieces of discovery out there and is now not happy with what the media discovered about it,” Frank said. He called Gray’s account a “misleading version of what the facts are.”

Frank asked the court to “carefully consider” what releasing the body cameras might do to the ability to pick a fair jury.

Cahill said he would take it under advisement and plans to issue a ruling on body camera video “fairly quickly.”

Before adjourning, he quizzed the attorneys on whether they would support audio and video coverage of the trial, currently scheduled to begin next March. All defense attorneys indicated yes. He asked Frank to file a motion by next Monday on the state’s position.

He said he was looking to quickly figure the issue out because of the public’s right to access information about the trial in “the age of COVID.”

The court adjourned at roughly 3:50 pm. The television showing Chauvin on the zoom call went dark.

The next hearing in the case is Sept. 11, 2020.

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