Rioters assaulted attorney, ex-cop in George Floyd case, says court filing

Attorney Tom Plunkett said the “riotous crowd” shows the men can't get a fair trial in Hennepin County


By Chao Xiong
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

MINNEAPOLIS — Demonstrators outside of a court hearing last month for the former Minneapolis police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd assaulted an attorney and defendant and damaged a car, according to a new court filing.

Attorney Thomas Plunkett, who is representing former officer J. Alexander Kueng, filed a memorandum Thursday outlining the allegations as additional evidence that the former officers' trials should be moved out of Hennepin County.

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Thomas Lane, right, walks out of a hearing with attorney Earl Gray at the Hennepin County Family Justice Center Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Minneapolis.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Thomas Lane, right, walks out of a hearing with attorney Earl Gray at the Hennepin County Family Justice Center Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

"Attorneys and Defendants were harassed upon arrival and departure from the courthouse," Plunkett wrote. " … The riot following the September 11th hearing shows that it is not safe for the participants if the trial is held in Hennepin County."

Plunkett and attorneys for the other defendants — Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — each previously filed motions for a change of venue, arguing that news coverage of Floyd's May 25 death has tainted the local jury pool. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill, who is overseeing the case, has not ruled on the matter.

Plunkett argued in his supplemental filing Monday that "violent rioters" threatened the defendants and attorneys as they walked from the courthouse after the hearing. All four defendants were in attendance.

According to Plunkett's filing: A protester punched and grabbed Lane's attorney, Earl Gray; protesters blocked Lane as he walked on the street; Lane was physically assaulted and someone caused $2,000 in damages to Plunkett's car.

Gray could not be reached for comment.

Thao and his attorney, Robert Paule, were followed for several blocks by "jeering protesters," Plunkett added.

"No recognizable plan was in place in advance of the hearing to assure the safe and orderly entry of Co-Defendant's [sic] or Co-Counsel into the courthouse," Plunkett wrote. "Mr. Chauvin, who is in custody, was subjected to a degree of humiliation by being paraded in public dressed in jail clothes and body armor."

Chauvin is being held at a state prison and was transported to downtown Minneapolis by authorities. Sheriff's deputies escorted him from a parking lot, which was fenced off but visible, to a back entrance.

One person allegedly smashed their bike into Plunkett's car, according to a Minneapolis police report Plunkett included with his filing. Plunkett also included still images of the scene that was recorded by the media organization, Unicorn Riot.

Plunkett drove off in a car with Kueng, Gray and Lane as several dozen protesters followed them and surrounded the vehicle.

If protesters gathered outside the courthouse during the trial, scheduled for March 8, they could intimidate or influence jurors and witnesses, Plunkett also argued.

©2020 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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