MINNEAPOLIS — The attorneys for former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao and Thomas Lane are asking that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison be held in contempt, for allegedly violating a gag order issued in the criminal case surrounding the death of George Floyd.
Thao's defense attorney Robert Paule filed a motion in Hennepin County District Court on Tuesday, July 14. "Defendant, by and through counsel, respectfully moves the Court for an order holding Keith Ellison, the Attorney General for Minnesota and lead prosecutor in the above-captioned case, in contempt of court and ordering sanctions as a result of his actions," the motion reads.
On July 9, Judge Peter Cahill issued a gag order in the case that is currently being contested by all four defendants.
The attorney for Thao's co-defendant, Thomas Lane, also argued in a memorandum that Ellison and his Chief of Staff John Stiles violated the order when they emailed the media announcing that four attorneys have joined Ellison's prosecution team in the George Floyd case on a pro bono basis.
In the email, Ellison was quoted saying, "Out of respect for Judge Cahill’s gag order, I will say simply that I’ve put together an exceptional team with experience and expertise across many disciplines. We are united in our responsibility to pursue justice in this case."
Lane's attorney Earl Gray said in his memorandum that the email is an "obvious violation" of the gag order.
"There is no reason to announce that these so called 'super stars' are joining the prosecution and that they’re doing it for free," Gray wrote. "It is an obvious statement to the public that these 'super stars' believe that our clients are guilty."
Ellison did not use the term "super stars" in the email, but called the additional lawyers "seasoned attorneys" and listed background and accomplishments for each of them.
"Ellison should be jailed along with Stiles," Gray argued in his motion.
Thao, Lane and fellow former officer J. Alexander Kueng are all charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is charged with second and third-degree murder and second degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd's neck until he was unresponsive.