MINNEAPOLIS – Jury selection was set to continue Thursday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin – teeing up another full day probing potential jurors in a case that has reopened wounds felt around the world after George Floyd’s death.
Potential jurors will be questioned about their knowledge of the case and the protests over Floyd’s death and asked whether they can set aside any existing opinions to serve impartially.
Thus far, five jurors have been chosen: four men and a woman. A few seemed eager; others fearful, some expressing safety concerns about serving on such a high-profile and divisive case, especially if their identity became public. Many had established clear opinions on the events that led to Chauvin’s arrest, but some didn’t follow the specifics on what led to Floyd’s death and the ensuing riots.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd in May. Prosecutors contend Floyd, 46, was killed by Chauvin’s knee, compressed against Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes while he was handcuffed and pinned to the pavement.
- Five jurors – four men and one woman – have been selected so far. They were each vetted about whether they’d seen the footage of Chauvin restraining Floyd and their perception of police officers and various advocate groups, such as Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives matter.
- Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill and lawyers over the week have asked potential jurors about their previous knowledge of the case, whether they’ve seen it on the news and how they responded to a 13-page questionnaire.
- Lawyers started Wednesday discussing several potential issues ahead of the trial, from descriptions of Floyd’s character to the potential for prosecutors to paint officers with the Minneapolis Police Department as being part of a conspiracy to back a fellow officer.
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Judge to address ruling, possibility of additional murder charge
Judge Peter Cahill is set to open Thursday’s proceedings with discussion about the Minnesota Supreme Court rejecting an appeal by Derek Chauvin, which could result in him facing an additional murder charge in the death of George Floyd.
Wednesday’s ruling means Cahill may reinstate a third-degree murder charge. Legal observers said that would give the jury more options as it considers Chauvin’s culpability in Floyd’s death.
The unusual, expedited decision by the state’s high court enables jury selection to continue with just a hiccup in the proceedings rather than a delay of weeks or months while it considered an appeal.
Friday, an appeals court ruled that Cahill should not have thrown out the third-degree murder charge last fall. The ruling delayed the start of jury selection Monday because the defense and prosecution disagreed over how that would affect the trial.
Five jurors – four men and one woman – have been chosen thus far to serve during Derek Chauvin’s trial, a majority of whom are white.
Among them: a man who immigrated from Africa to the U.S., a chemist, a woman who said she was “super excited” to serve, a man who said he had a fairly negative view of Blue Lives Matter and a man who is likely being forced to cancel his wedding to serve on the jury.
They were each vetted about whether they’d seen the footage of Chauvin restraining Floyd, their perception of police officers and various advocate groups, such as Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives matter.