The first jurors were selected on Tuesday for the murder trial of a former police officer accused of killing George Floyd. The lawyers for Derek Chauvin moved to select the second potential juror they questioned as the murder trial officially got underway following a delay while considering charging the defendant with an additional murder charge.
The trial is being live-streamed online, allowing viewers to see the proceedings.
The first juror who was selected identified himself as a chemist who lives in Minneapolis and said he has not seen the video of Chauvin appearing to apply deadly pressure to the neck of Floyd, who was handcuffed and face down on a street’s hot pavement on May 25. The video promptly went viral and helped spark global uprisings against police violence, racism and what is often the deadly combination of the two.
Among the line of questioning extended to the first juror who was selected was how he feels about the Black Lives Matter movement. The juror responded in kind with conflicting messages.
“I don’t love the Black Lives Matter organization, but I support the movement,” he said. But then he followed that up by explaining that he was aware of what “Blue Lives Matter” stood for and said he thinks that “all lives matter,” a phrase that undermines his initial assertion that he supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
It was unclear exactly what he meant by his “support” for the movement and whether that was in financial terms or theoretical terms or both.
Analysts on Court TV, which is broadcasting the murder trial, expressed skepticism at the juror’s claims he never saw the video. That claim stood in contrast to the juror’s other claim that he visited the site where Floyd died and did research on racial equality.
One analyst suggested not having viewed the video could work against the defense, considering how shocking the footage of Chauvin, hands in pocket, casually kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes as the unarmed Black man repeated that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin is shown on the video blankly staring at a growing group of witnesses, including one filming the fateful footage, seemingly indifferent to their warnings that he was killing Floyd.
The first potential juror was dismissed over an apparent language barrier and the third potential juror said she did not think she could be impartial in the case, for which she admitted having “strong” feelings.
In all, a total of three jurors was chosen on the trial’s first full day devoted to selecting the panelists.
Chauvin, who turns 45 later this month, stands charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. He could also have a third-degree murder charge reinstated after it was dropped in October on a legal technicality.
The process of selecting a jury has been given three weeks, with opening statements scheduled to begin no later than March 29. They were described as a woman of color and two white men. Six others were dismissed.
The judge and the attorneys need to find as many as 16 jurors, including four alternates.