MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jury selection is complete in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd. The court seated the 15th juror late Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, No. 131 of the potential jurors was seated in the Chauvin trial as the 15th juror. It took 12 days to complete the jury. However, Judge Peter Cahill says he’s not going to release the jury pool until they begin Monday’s proceedings.READ MORE: Police Seek Public's Help Identifying Menards Armed Robbery Suspect
The 15th juror is an accountant and a sports fan with a “somewhat negative” view of Chauvin. He told the court that he thought the former Minneapolis police officer used unnecessary force when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
This 15th juror will be excused from duty on Monday if none of the other 14 jurors are dismissed from duty. The rest of the jury pool will not be released until the jurors are sworn in next week.
Fourteen of the jurors will hear the case in the upcoming weeks. Two will be chosen as alternates and dismissed before deliberations.
The fact that the jury has been seated is seen by some as an accomplishment in and of itself, with observers worried it might be difficult to find jurors who could be impartial in the case.
Here is the self-identified race, gender and decade-of-age information for the 15 selected jurors:
- No. 2: white man; 20s
- No. 9: multi/mixed-race woman; 20s
- No. 19: white man; 30s
- No. 27: Black man; 30s
- No. 44: white woman; 50s
- No. 52: Black man; 30s
- No. 55: white woman; 50s
- No. 79: Black man; 40
- No. 85: multi/mixed-race woman; 40s
- No. 89: white woman; 50s
- No. 91: Black woman; 60s
- No. 92: white woman; 40s
- No. 96: white woman; 50s
- No. 118: white woman; 20s
- No. 131 white man; 20s
Last week, two seated jurors were removed after saying that news of the City of Minneapolis’ settlement to the Floyd family would affect their ability to be impartial.
An alternate is a juror who will hear the whole case and would replace one of the 12 jurors should they be excused during the trial. Otherwise, the alternate is excused from the trial once deliberations start.
Originally, the court’s goal was to seat 12 jurors and two alternates for this trial. On Friday, the judge said that attorneys will work to pick a second and a third person who could serve as alternates.
Defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, told WCCO This Morning that he’s not surprised that the court is seeking more alternates for such a high-profile case.
“You could look at it this way: With the cases that are coming up in August, with the other three people charged in relation to George Floyd’s death, they’re going to have four alternates in that trial, so I’m not surprised that the judge may want to bump it from two [alternates] to three,” he said.READ MORE: 3 Teens Arrested In Connection To Drive-By Shootings In Northern Minnesota
Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, says that sometimes the alternates are not the last jurors chosen. Sometimes the judge will have a random process to select alternates, such as pulling numbers out of a hat.
However, 90% of the time the last jurors seated are used as alternates, Tamburino said.
If three or more jurors get sick, there could be a pause in the trial or even a mistrial.
The question at heart of the trial was laid out in the jury selection: What actually caused Floyd’s death? The defense argues it was Floyd’s poor health and drugs in his system. The prosecution says it was Chauvin’s knee.
“This case will be a battle of the experts — both the medical experts and police use of force experts. So it’s going to be very interesting to see how both sides will lay out their sides in opening statements,” Tamburino said.
When opening arguments start next Monday, the 14 jurors will sit in grade school-style desks, socially distanced. The trial is expected to last about four weeks.
One big question hanging in the air is whether Chauvin will testify in his own defense. His own attorney has suggested during jury selection that he wouldn’t.
“Chauvin has no obligation to prove anything. He doesn’t have to bring in a single witness, doesn’t have to bring in any evidence,” attorney Eric Nelson said.
Also last week: Judge Peter Cahill denied the defense’s motions to delay the trial and to move it out of Hennepin County due to the $27 million settlement reached for George Floyd’s family.
Cahill also ruled to allow limited details of a previous May 2019 arrest of George Floyd in the trial.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020 in police custody after Chauvin, a white former officer with the Minneapolis Police Department pressed his knee into his neck for over eight minutes. His death was filmed and widely circulated throughout the world, sparking protests and a national reckoning on police reform and racial justice.
Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, as well as a third-degree murder charge.MORE NEWS: Sen. Tina Smith Cosponsors Bill That Aims To Expand SCOTUS, Abolish Filibuster: ’Doing Nothing Is Not An Option’
The three other former officers at the scene – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane – face charges for aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. They will be tried jointly in August.