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The ex-trial cop’s in Floyd’s death is nearing the end of jury selection.



The ex-trial cop's in Floyd's death is nearing the end of jury selection.
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The ex-trial cop's in Floyd's death is nearing the end of jury selection.

The ex-trial cop’s in Floyd’s death is nearing the end of jury selection.


The trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death is nearing the end of jury selection, with only one more juror expected before opening statements next week.

On Monday, one juror was seated and several others were rejected as the vote moved forward. However, only one more juror is needed to meet the number of jurors requested by Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill. Twelve jurors will finally deliberate, with two alternates; Cahill has said that if the 14 other jurors are still available when opening statements begin on March 29, he will excuse the third extra juror.

Despite social distancing, mask-wearing, and plastic shields in the courtroom, Derek Chauvin’s trial is taking place in the midst of the pandemic, placing jurors at risk of becoming sick. The international exposure to Floyd’s death has also complicated jury selection, long before the city of Minneapolis reached a $27 million settlement to his family early in the process.

The only juror, a white social worker in her twenties, said she has discussed police reform with her peers and believes “there are things that can be changed.” She did, however, praise police officers and their work, and she said that she is “always looking at every side of things.”

Floyd, a Black man, was pronounced dead on May 25 after Chauvin, a white man, jammed his knee against his neck for nine minutes while handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death, which was caught on camera by a bystander, sparked weeks of often violent demonstrations around the country and prompted a national reckoning on racial justice.

Cahill denied a prosecution request to postpone or reschedule Chauvin’s trial on Friday, citing fears that the jury pool had been contaminated by the $27 million settlement for Floyd’s relatives. He also said the jury would hear evidence from Floyd’s arrest in 2019, but only details about the cause of death.

According to the court, eight of the 14 jurors seated so far are white, four are black, and two are multiracial. They are nine women and five men, ranging in age from their twenties to their sixties.

It’s unknown who will serve as substitute jurors. Legal scholars say it’s almost always the last people selected, but the court says that won’t be the case in Chauvin’s case.

On Monday, a number of prospective jurors were disqualified. Since she has a chronically ill child at home, one mother was excused. Another shared concern about her command of the English language and her ability to comprehend technical words. A nursing assistant who marched in a rally and held a sign was sent home by the defense using a peremptory attack.

In his questionnaire, one man said that he believed this was an instance of unnecessary force, that the force was the cause of Floyd’s death, and that police forces and other organisations work to conceal crimes. Despite his strong views, the man tried to state in court that he might be impartial. Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, attempted to have him fired for cause, but Cahill declined, despite the judge’s finding that he was “evasive” and “flippant.” Nelson dispatched the man with yet another peremptory blow.

Another officer was fired for cause after he claimed that he was moving toward convicting Chauvin. He compared Floyd’s death to a brawl with a brother, saying the wrestling should end if anyone decides they’ve had enough.

“You can wrestle, tussle, or whatever you want, but you have to stop when someone says no more,” he said.

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