Information from KSTP-TV and The Associated Press
Updated: March 16, 2021 09:42 AM
Created: March 09, 2021 10:22 AM
Three jurors were selected on the first day of jury selection in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd.
Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.
One juror who was selected said he has seen a still image of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck but has not seen the video. Another juror said her uncle is a police officer in Brainerd but said that would not impact her decision. The third juror to be selected said he has a friend-of-a-friend who is a police officer.
Six other potential jurors were excused Tuesday, including some who said they wouldn't be able to set aside their strong views about the case. More than a dozen others had been dismissed Monday based on their responses to a questionnaire.
Jury selection began a day later than scheduled amid questions about whether the Minnesota Court of Appeals will halt the case and delay it for weeks.
Prosecutors are asking the Court of Appeals to put the trial on hold until the issue of adding a third-degree murder count is resolved. The appeals court did not immediately rule on that request, and Judge Peter Cahill said Monday that he'll continue with the case until he's told to stop.
At least three weeks have been set aside for jury selection. Opening arguments will not begin until at least March 29.
Juror #1: Excused
The first potential juror was excused. Judge Cahill said the reason was due to some of her answers, including a question from the defense regarding why she wanted to participate in the trial as a juror. She responded in the questionnaire, "I would like to give my opinion on the unjust death of George Floyd."
The judge also mentioned a concern about her English proficiency, as she told the defense on a scale of 1-10 (1 being a struggle with English, 10 excelling with it) she responded, "7," but also mentioned she had to use a dictionary to look up some of the meaning of words on the questionnaire. The judge determined she would not be able to fully follow the proceedings and he dismissed her. The potential juror was excused after the defense used a peremptory challenge.
Judge Cahill also mentioned that one Plexiglass panel will be removed, as the potential jurors can be seen in a reflection on it.
Juror #2: Selected
The second potential juror was the first to be selected to serve on the jury.
The juror is a chemist with an environmental science degree and science background. He said he has not yet seen the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck, but has seen the still image. He mentioned he has visited the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue because "it happened in my city. It was a transformative event." The juror also stated that mandatory minimums are racially biased, based on statistics. However, he told the defense he does not believe that the Minneapolis Police Department is more likely to confront Black suspects with more force than white suspects.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson asked the juror if he fit one of the two following categories: some people intentionally respond to jury questionnaires to attempt to get off the jury, and others try to get on the jury with underlying factors. His response was, "my answers were truthful."
He also has a background in resolving conflicts, as he served as a summer camp counselor for "7 to 8 summers." A pool reporter in the courtroom says the first official juror is a white man in his 20s or 30s.
Neither the defense nor prosecution team attempted to challenge the acceptance of the juror.
Juror #3: Excused
The third potential juror was excused due to "cause" after telling Judge Cahill that she hopes for a specific outcome and doesn't think that would change during the trial.
The potential juror said she has followed a lot of the news via Instagram stories and noted that she believed it would be difficult for her to change her opinion from the evidence already provided up to this point.
Juror #4: Excused
The fourth potential juror was excused due to the defense using a peremptory challenge strike on the juror. Juror No. 4 has identified himself as a Hispanic man who moved to Minnesota from Southern California recently. The defense has 13 peremptory challenge strikes remaining, with the prosecution having nine left.
The prosecution also attempted to use a Batson challenge, which is used to prevent attorneys from dismissing a potential juror based solely on race. The prosecution stated that Juror No. 4 answered similarly to Juror No. 2, who is white.
The defense argued that there are differences between the two compared. Juror No. 2 did not see the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd, while Juror No. 4 has "more preconceived notions of the case." Judge Cahill said there is a difference and that race-neutral reasoning is valid. Cahill added that the martial arts background of Juror No. 4 could be potentially problematic when it came to the knee-to-neck evidence. Cahill further stated that the juror would put the burden on the defense to prove innocence based on his opinions on the case.
Juror No. 4 had also stated in court, "there could have been a different outcome" in the interaction with police, also noting some past negative experiences with police in California.
Juror numbers 5, 6, and 7 were dismissed Monday based on their questionnaire responses.
Juror #8: Excused
Juror No. 8, who was the fifth potential juror to be questioned Tuesday, was excused. State prosecutors issued a peremptory challenge strike, their first used so far. The state has eight left; the defense has 13 remaining.
"I have a lot of respect for police... and I know they go through training," he said in court.
Juror No. 8, a military veteran from the National Guard, reiterated it was wrong to "second-guess an officer's decision," prompting the strike to come down.
Juror #9: Selected
Juror No. 9 has been accepted to serve on the jury. She is the second confirmed juror, joining Juror No. 2.
Juror No. 9 is from northern Minnesota, and mentioned her uncle is a police officer in Brainerd. However, she said in court that her uncle's occupation would make zero impact on her decision. She also described herself as a mediator between her friends, able to solve conflict by reading people's body language and using logic.
In regards to both the Black Lives Matter movement and the Blue Lives Matter ideology, she believes that both are a "bigger scheme" to get people to buy merchandise.
She showed her excitement to be summoned and confirmed to serve on the jury, stating she "finds the process fascinating."
She confirmed to the defense and state prosecutors that she is able to put opinions aside in return for facts and evidence to make an accurate decision.
Juror #10: Excused
Juror No. 10 has been dismissed due to his safety and work reasons.
He said he may have to work after the trial, and the judge's reasoning was he did not want someone falling asleep in court. The man works as an accountant, and with it being the time of year for taxes, that adds to the problem for that potential juror.
He added he felt "uneasy" if his name is released after the trial to be a target of organizations. He did not specify.
Juror numbers 11 to 16 were dismissed Monday based on their questionnaire responses.
Juror #17: Excused
Juror No. 17 was excused, with Judge Cahill saying, "There might be better juries for you to sit on than go through a case of this magnitude."
Reporters said the juror, who was 19 years old, appeared to be anxious in the courtroom, saying he does not want to serve on the jury for multiple reasons.
The juror referred to himself as a very open-minded, deep thinker. He also said he has the belief that there are "a lot of bad cops, specifically MPD," and noted how he feels intimidated by police. He told the defense, "I think this whole thing is just very divisive." He further stated he doesn't want people to know he served on the jury.
He mentioned in court that his father had been racially profiled before by an officer in Minneapolis during a traffic stop. He said his father doesn't break the law.
Juror number 18 was dismissed Monday based on questionnaire responses.
Juror #19: Selected
Juror No. 19 has been approved to serve on the jury. Juror No. 19 considers himself as an "honest person, straightforward and easy to talk to."
He said in court he doesn't have any concerns about his or his family's safety for serving as a jury member in the case. He works as an auditor, and resolves conflict as a team at his job. He mentioned he would keep an open mind until all evidence is present and considered in court, even though he has viewed the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd "at least three times," but not in full.
The juror mentioned he had a "friend of a friend" who is a K-9 officer for the Minneapolis Police Department. He says before COVID-19, he would see this officer at least twice a year, but said the relationship has no impact on his judgments in this case.
Regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, he supports the general context of it, saying "Black lives do matter." He does have an unfavorable opinion of the Blue Lives Matter ideology.
He confirmed to both sides that he would be able to set aside personal opinions in favor of facts.
Juror numbers 22, 24, 25, 32, 35, 45, 47 and 50 were dismissed Monday based on their questionnaire responses.
Information from KSTP-TV and The Associated Press
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