October 21, 2020

Protester charged with damaging vehicle of lawyer for ex-cop charged in George Floyd case

A 24-year-old has been charged with a felony after a group of angry protesters damaged the vehicle of a lawyer for a fired Minneapolis police officer implicated in the death of George Floyd.

Edith N. Okerlund, 24, of St. Paul, appeared in Hennepin County District Court on Friday on charges of first-degree property damage, a felony, and gross-misdemeanor riot in connection with attorney Thomas Plunkett’s allegations that demonstrators threatened him, client J. Alexander Kueng, co-defendant Thomas Lane and another defense lawyer as they left the courthouse after a hearing last month.

Plunkett wrote in a memo filed in court on Oct. 1 that the encounter further supports the defense’s call for the four former officers’ trials to be moved out of Hennepin County.

Okerlund was arrested and jailed Wednesday, then released two days later. Messages were left for her Sunday seeking comment.

Defense attorney Jordan Kushner said Sunday that Okerlund did not damage the vehicle and that he has supporting video. At the same time, he said, “the video doesn’t show everything that’s going on.”

According to the charges, first reported by KMSP-TV: Plunkett and Earl Gray, the defense attorney for former officer Lane, were walking from the Hennepin County Government Center with their clients to Plunkett’s vehicle parked at a meter on Sept. 11 when they were approached by about 20 people.

Plunkett said the group surrounded his vehicle and pounded on it with a drumstick, fists and a bicycle as the lawyer and the rest of his group sat inside.

Gray said he saw someone, later identified as Okerlund, strike Plunkett’s vehicle with a bicycle.

Plunkett added that some protesters were calling for him and Gray “to be murdered for their representation” of Kueng and Lane, the criminal complaint read.

Plunkett drove from the scene, saw the damage to his vehicle and provided an estimate to police that it was in excess of $2,000.

According to Plunkett’s filing, one protester punched and grabbed Gray; others blocked Lane as he walked on the street; and Lane was physically assaulted.

Attorneys for Kueng, Lane and co-defendants Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao are arguing that news coverage of Floyd’s May 25 death while in police custody has tainted the local jury pool. Judge Peter Cahill, who is overseeing the case, has yet to rule on the matter.

Floyd’s death following his arrest on suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill at Cup Foods in south Minneapolis was captured on a bystander’s cellphone. The video went viral, prompting worldwide outrage and unrest.

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