MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The trial in the murder of George Floyd is over, but questions are beginning to circulate about one of the jurors.
A photo is making the rounds on social media of Brandon Mitchell attending the March on Washington back in August, which commemorated the 57th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.
In the image, Mitchell is wearing a T-shirt featuring the likeness of King, surrounded by text that reads “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” and “BLM.”
Floyd’s family spoke briefly at that march. Mitchell told WCCO he was there to take part in a voter registration rally, not to protest — and that he was an unbiased juror.
“It was huge to get people geared for voter turnout, so being a part of that, being able to attend, you know, the same location where Martin Luther King gave his speech was a historic moment,” Mitchell said. “Either way, I was going to D.C. for this event, even if George Floyd was still alive.”
And he says he was wearing the T-shirt because of the circumstances of 2020, and not because he was attending what he believed to be a protest focused solely on Floyd.
“Not even close, not even close,” Mitchell said.
He has given interviews about his role as a juror, including one to WCCO.
A number of legal sources, including those familiar with the trial, told WCCO this juror at minimum will have to be questioned in what’s called a Schwartz hearing. And depending on his answers, a mistrial could be declared.
WCCO spoke with law professor Rachel Moran from the University of St. Thomas about what this photo could mean for the case.
“Did the juror speak the truth? Or alternatively, did the juror say something untrue during questioning?” Moran said. “But the other thing to keep in mind is did the lawyers do their job in investigating the juror?” Moran said.
Before being selected, Mitchell filled out this questionnaire. On it, he said he never attended protests over police brutality in Minnesota or beyond. He also answered a question on Black Lives Matter, saying, “Black lives just want to be treated as equals and not killed or treated in an aggressive manner simply because they are Black.”
“If he had been asked about it and he tried to hide it, that could be an issue,” Moran said. “But at this point, I don’t see anything, any evidence that he tried to hide it.”
The defense does now have the right to ask Judge Peter Cahill to go back and question Mitchell, then Cahill can decide if the verdict will stand.
“I think it’s really important for the viewers at home to know it’s really hard to overturn a conviction, and courts are especially reluctant to interfere with the jury deliberation process,” Moran said.
Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s defense attorney, did not comment on the situation. Prosecutors also told WCCO they had no comment.