Only one member of George Floyd’s family at a time will be allowed to attend the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of Floyd, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said only one Floyd family member at a time may be present in the courtroom, but different family members are able to rotate through that position. The same ruling applies to Chauvin’s family, Cahill wrote in his ruling.
The trial order also required all parties to follow Covid-19 restrictions, including keeping six feet apart from other people and wearing masks. Although it bans “any mask or article of clothing that contains any image, logo, letters, or numbers that are visible.”
Attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a joint statement on Tuesday that the past year has been a “deeply painful and emotional year for every member of the Floyd family, many of whom intended to be in the courtroom to witness this trial.”
“While they understand the judge’s reasons to limit attendance in the courtroom, the family is understandably disappointed by this ruling. The family is looking forward to the start of the trial as a critical milestone on the path to justice and a step toward closure in this dark chapter of their lives,” they said in a statement.
Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment on Tuesday.
The ruling comes less than a week before Chauvin is expected to stand trial on March 8. Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. The three other officers charged with aiding and abetting in the death of Floyd — Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — will stand trial together in August.
In February, prosecutors sought to add third-degree murder charges against Chauvin after Cahill dropped the initial charge against him late last year.
About a week later, it was revealed that Chauvin agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder days after Floyd’s death, but then-Attorney General William Barr rejected the deal.
Lacey Severins, a spokeswoman for the Hennepin County attorney’s office, which was handling the case at the time, told NBC News at the time that “as is typical in many cases, early negotiations can occur between all relevant parties involved.”
“Many times, a defendant will explore their options with a negotiation. It is also common for these types of discussions to happen in the beginning of a case and then have no agreed upon negotiations develop. This case was no different. Negotiations were discussed, nothing developed,” Severins said.
Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody on May 25. Video showed Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes while he was handcuffed and repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests against systemic racism and renewed calls to end police brutality and racial inequities.
All four officers who were accused of playing a role in Floyd’s death were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department in May.