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Wednesday, Aug 04, 2021

What we know about the jurors selected so far in Derek Chauvin's trial

What we know about the jurors selected so far in Derek Chauvin's trial

The jurors selected so far this week in Derek Chauvin's trial in the death of George Floyd are unnamed and unseen on camera, but we do know basic details about them.

As of Monday, six men and three women have been chosen to serve on the jury during the trial in Minneapolis. Of the nine jurors selected so far, five are White, two are Black, one is Hispanic and one is mixed race, according to how the court says the jurors identified themselves on their jury survey.

The jury selection process, which began March 9 at the Hennepin County Government Center, will continue until the court decides on 14 people -- 12 jurors and two alternates, Hennepin County Court director of communications Spenser Bickett told CNN.

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, a White former Minneapolis Police officer, placed his knee on Floyd's neck for an extended period while Floyd pleaded, "I can't breathe." His final moments were captured on video, and his death led to widespread protests against police brutality and racism under the banner Black Lives Matter as well as incidents of unrest and looting.

Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. He has also pleaded not guilty to third-degree murder, which was reinstated in the case on March 11.

Opening statements are expected to start no earlier than March 29, followed by testimony that could take about four weeks.

Who was selected
In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listen in court during jury selection Wednesday.

The jurors all come from Hennepin County, which is demographically about 74% White and 14% Black, according to census data.

The prospective jurors have previously completed a 16-page questionnaire that asked for their personal thoughts on Black Lives Matter, policing and other topics. In court, each person is sworn in and then questioned one-by-one in a process known as voir dire. The juror's name, address and other information are kept anonymous.

Eric Nelson is questioning the prospective jurors for the defense, while Steve Schleicher is questioning them for the prosecution. Judge Peter Cahill is presiding over the trial.

Seven jurors were selected in the first four days of jury selection last week. Two jurors have been selected on Monday.

The first seven jurors chosen are not finalized. The court plans to bring them back to question them further as to whether the city's $27 million settlement with Floyd's estate had any impact on their views of the case.

The first juror selected was a White man in his 20s or 30s who works as a chemist and said he has an analytical mind.

The second juror was a woman of color who appears to be in her 20s or 30s, according to a pool reporter's observations in court. She said she was "super excited" about getting the jury questionnaire form.

The third juror selected was a White man in his 30s who works as an auditor.

The fourth juror was a White man in his late 30s or 40s who said he had a "very favorable" view of Black Lives Matter. He also said he believed police are more truthful than other witnesses. The juror is planning to get married on May 1 and told the court that if he was selected for the trial it could delay the wedding.

"Go ahead and throw me under the bus with your fiancée," the judge joked. The juror replied, "OK, I will do that."

The fifth juror selected was a Black man in his 30s or 40s who moved to the US 14 years ago and works in information technology. He said that he had a "somewhat negative" opinion of Chauvin, that he strongly disagreed with defunding the police and that police make him feel safe.

The sixth juror was a Hispanic man in his 20s or 30s, according to the pool reporter's observations. The man, who works as a truck driver, said Chauvin "gave me the impression of showing off his authority" in the video of Floyd's death, and he also said none of this would have happened if Floyd had complied with police.

The seventh juror is a White woman in her 50s, according to the court. She said she has a "somewhat negative" impression of Chauvin, and believes there are biases against African Americans but not everyone in the system is bad. She said she felt empathy for Floyd as well as the officers because "at the end of the day I'm sure that the intention was not there for this to happen."

The eighth juror chosen is a Black man in his 30s, according to the court, who said he had very favorable views of Black Lives Matter. He also said he thought Chauvin had "no intention" of harming anyone, but he said he could put that opinion aside in this case.

The ninth juror selected is a White woman in her 50s, according to the court. She had a "somewhat negative" impression of Chauvin and wrote she "got the impression he didn't care about" Floyd.

Who was excused
Plexiglass barriers to limit the spread of Covid-19 have been installed in the courtroom at the Hennepin County Government Center.

If the defense or prosecution believes a person cannot be impartial in the case, they can ask the court to dismiss the person for cause. Each side has unlimited challenges for cause.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys can also move to dismiss prospective jurors without cause, using what's called a peremptory challenge. Chauvin's team is allowed 15 of these challenges and the prosecution has nine. These peremptory challenges can themselves be challenged, though, if they are based on race, ethnicity or sex -- known as a Batson challenge.

The defense used peremptory strikes Wednesday on a Hispanic woman who said her English was not great and on a Hispanic man who had martial arts training. The state raised a Batson challenge and argued that the strikes were race-based, but the defense disagreed, and the judge sided with the defense's race-neutral reasoning.

The state used a peremptory strike Friday on a man in his 40s who appeared to be white. He said he was an Army veteran who served in Iraq. Bystanders seen in the video of Floyd's encounter with the police, he said, likely raised the stress level of the moment.


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