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Prosecutors want no audio-visual coverage of cops’ trials

MINNEAPOLIS — Prosecutors in the cases against four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd said Monday that they do not want audio or visual coverage of the trials, but they did not provide a reason.

Derek Chauvin and three other former officers are scheduled to go on trial in March. In a letter filed Monday with the court, the state said it “does not consent to audio or video coverage of any trials in these matters.” The letter did not elaborate on the state’s reasons, and a message left with the Attorney General’s Office was not immediately returned.

Under Minnesota court rules, a judge can allow the recording and reproduction of criminal proceedings if both sides consent. Judge Peter Cahill has yet to rule on the matter, but the state’s position makes it unlikely that he will allow cameras at trial.

Last month, Cahill ruled that cameras would not be allowed during pretrial proceedings, after prosecutors objected. At the time, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said allowing cameras in the courtroom “will create more problems than it would solve,” by altering the way lawyers present evidence and possibly intimidating witnesses.

Floyd, who was Black, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against the handcuffed man’s neck for nearly eight minutes. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. All four officers were fired after Floyd’s death.

Defense attorneys have said they would be open to audio and visual coverage of the trials, saying the recordings are necessary to guarantee the officers get a fair trial — especially during a pandemic when public access to the courtroom is restricted.