MINNEAPOLIS — Jury selection in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin ended Tuesday with just one more juror needed before opening statements begin next week.
One juror was selected so far Monday, bringing the tally to 14 jurors. The court will need a total of 15 people on the panel – 12 to deliberate and three to serve as alternates.
Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. As he lay on the ground under Chauvin, Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times. The incident sparked protests worldwide.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
- Court recessed Monday. Jury selection will continue Tuesday at 9 a.m. CT
- A fourteenth juror was selected Monday. Her addition brings the pool to five men and nine women. Eight people identify as white, two as multiracial and four as Black, according to the court. Six of the jurors are in their 20s or 30s, three in their 40s, four in their 50s and one in their 60s.
- Attorneys for the defense and prosecution have spent the past two weeks questioning potential jurors about their views on racism, discrimination, policing of communities of color and Black Lives Matter. Last week, lead defense attorney Eric Nelson told a prospective juror that the trial is “not about race.”
- Jurors will be allowed to hear evidence related to George Floyd’s arrest in 2019, Cahill ruled Friday. He also denied the defense’s request to move or delay the trial.
- Opening statements are scheduled to start March 29.
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A fourteenth juror was added Monday, a white woman in her 20s who works as a social worker, meaning only one more potential juror is needed to fill the jury pool ahead of opening statements next week.
The jurors, five men and nine women, have been selected for Derek Chauvin’s trial. Twelve will serve on the jury and deliberate his fate while three are set to serve as alternates.
Given the circumstances of Floyd’s death — a Black man dying under the knee of a white police officer — the racial makeup of the jury is a key concern. Nine of the jurors identify as white, two as multiracial and four as Black, according to the court. As many as four people could be chosen to serve as alternates.
Here’s a quick look at who else is on the jury:
- A white woman in her 50s who is a self-described animal lover with a passion for affordable housing.
- A white woman in her 40s who works in insurance and said she loves the state of Minnesota
- A Black woman in her 60s who retired from marketing and said she loves spending time with her grandkids
- A white nurse in her 50s who works with ventilated COVID-19 patients
- A mixed-race woman in her 40s who works in company reorganization
- A Black man in his 40s who works in management and has lived in Hennepin County for two decades
- A white woman in her 50s who works in healthcare and likes to ride her motorcycle
- A Black man in his 30s who works in banking and teaches youth sports
- A white woman in her 50s who works at a nonprofit and is the single mother of two teenage sons
- A Black man in his 30s who works in tech and immigrated from Africa to the U.S.
- A white auditor in his 30s
- A mixed-race woman in her 20s who said she was “super excited” to serve
- A white chemist in his 20s who plays Ultimate Frisbee
As of Monday afternoon, the defense has used 14 of its 18 peremptory challenges, which it can use to strike potential jurors without having to explain why. The state has used eight of its 10.
Last week, the court cut two jurors because they said they were influenced by the city’s historic $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill opened up Monday’s court by acknowledging Derek Chauvin’s attorneys filed an extensive number of documents requesting a change in venue for the trial but that hewould still deny the request, all but ensuring the trial will remain in Minneapolis.
On Friday, Cahill denied the defense’s request to move or delay the trial. Chauvin’s defense team argued the jury pool had been tainted by pretrial publicity and a widely reported announcement of a historic $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family.
“Unfortunately, I think the pretrial publicity in this case will continue no matter how long we continue it,” Cahill said. “And as far as change of venue, I do not think that that would give the defendant any kind of a fair trial beyond what we are doing here today. I don’t think there’s any place in the state of Minnesota that has not been subjected to extreme amounts of publicity in this case.”
Also on Friday, Cahill said jurors would be allowed to hear some evidence related to George Floyd’s arrest in May 2019. He ruled in January that the jury could not hear the evidence but heard fresh arguments this week after new evidence was uncovered related to Floyd’s 2020 arrest.
In the May 2019 arrest, police responded to information about illegal narcotics activity and found substantial amounts of drugs on and near Floyd, according to court filings. As police were arresting him with guns drawn, Floyd got upset and called for his mother. Paramedics told Floyd he needed to be hospitalized because he had dangerously high blood pressure that could cause a stroke or heart attack, according to courtroom testimony.
Cahill said the two arrests are “remarkably similar,” but jurors can hear evidence from the 2019 arrest only related to Floyd’s medical state – not his emotional behavior – since it pertains to the cause of death in the 2020 incident.
The judge ruled that a portion of an officer’s body camera video of the 2019 incident could be admitted. Jurors can also see a photo from that incident showing pills on the seat of a car and hear what Floyd’s blood pressure was then, as well as why a paramedic at the scene recommended Floyd go to the hospital.
“The whole point here is we have medical evidence of what happens when Mr. Floyd is faced with virtually the same situation,” Cahill said. “The May 6th, 2019, incident is relevant only to that extent. Mr. Floyd’s emotional behavior, calling out for his mother – all of that is not admissible.”
Previously, Cahill ruled on motions to include evidence about Chauvin’s history. Evidence related to 16 incidents involving Chauvin and the three other former Minneapolis police officers charged in Floyd’s death cannot be brought up at trial, Cahill ruled in January.
Contributing: Grace Hauck, Kevin McCoy, N’dea Yancey-Bragg, Eric Ferkenhoff
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