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Federal Trial Delayed In George Floyd's Death; 1 Of The Ex-Officers Test Positive For COVID

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- The federal trial of three ex-officers charged in George Floyd's death has been delayed until next week due to one of the defendants testing positive for COVID-19.

WCCO's Esme Murphy was in court for the announcement Wednesday morning. Judge Paul Magnuson said there was a COVID-19 diagnosis and that trial was adjourned until 9:30 a.m. Monday.

The judge did not say which former officer tested positive, but Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng were in court before the adjournment – Thomas Lane was not.

tou Thao, j alexander Kueng, thomas Lane Federal Charges
(credit: CBS)

Attorneys leaving the courtroom did not comment.

The threat of the virus is one reason there are six alternates on the jury. There are 18 jurors total.

The defendants and their attorneys are masked, but they sit about 2 feet apart from each other. The defendants' tables are about 4 feet apart. The attorneys remove their masks when they approach the podium to speak to the court.

In a press release sent in the late morning, U.S. District Court officials said the person who tested positive for COVID-19 will be retested prior to the trial resuming. All others who were in close proximity to the COVID-19-positive individual will also be tested.

"Case participants are required to answer a series of questions related to COVID-19 symptoms each morning before the trial begins," the press release said. "If a case participant tests positive for COVID-19, has been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, or begins exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms mid-trial, a COVID-19 test is immediately administered."

There is no vaccine requirement.

Officials say "the court will never comment" on the identity of a case participant who tests positive for COVID-19.

Thou, Lane, and Kueng are accused of violating Floyd's civil rights on May 25, 2020, when they failed to stop Derek Chauvin from kneeling on his neck for nearly 10 minutes, even as Floyd pleaded for air and lost consciousness.

During the trial, the judge has repeatedly expressed frustration with what he has called the repetitive nature of the prosecution's case. The judge initially told jurors to expect a four-week trial. But with this delay and the third week starting on Monday, that might be a schedule that's hard to meet.

The federal courthouse in St. Paul will remain closed to the general public during the recess.

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