Jury chosen in trial of ex-police officer accused of George Floyd killing

The jury has been selected in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former US police officer accused of murdering George Floyd.

Opening statements are due to begin in Minneapolis next week in a case described as one of the most important in the nation’s history.

Fourteen jury members will hear the trial proceedings – 12 to deliberate and two alternates – with a 15th juror selected as an insurance policy, who is expected to be dismissed when it starts.

George Floyd was killed while under arrest in Minneapolis in May
Image:George Floyd was killed while under arrest in Minneapolis in May

Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis officer, is on trial for the death of George Floyd in May last year.

Mr Floyd, who was black, was filmed with Mr Chauvin’s knee on his neck for nearly eight minutes while he was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe.

The video was shared around the world and sparked months of protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

Selecting an impartial jury for such a well-known case was destined to be a lengthy process.

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Potential jurors were pre-screened with a detailed questionnaire asking their views on policing, the campaign group Black Lives Matter, if they’d ever attended any protests and how many times they’d viewed the video of the defendant and Mr Floyd.

Around one in five residents in Minneapolis is black and it was expected to be a challenge to find any that didn’t already have an opinion on what happened to Mr Floyd.

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Minneapolis is preparing for the trial of a former policeman accused of killing George Floyd.

There was also concern in a city where 80% of the population is white that the jury would be too white or too pro police.

The jury selected is more diverse than expected.

Of the 14 jurors to be seated on Monday, nine are women and five are men.

Three black men, one black woman, two women who identify as multiracial, two white men and six white women will hear the case.

The 15th juror, the spare, is a white man. They range in age from their 20s to their 60s.

Just days into jury selection came the announcement of a $27m (£19.6m) civil settlement between the city of Minneapolis and the Floyd family.

It prompted defence lawyers to question whether the record settlement would make it impossible for their client to get a fair trial.

All selected jurors were re-interviewed and two were dismissed after admitting they could no longer be impartial.

The publicity surrounding the pay-out prompted the defence to demand a delay and change of venue.

County District Court Judge Peter A. Cahill rejected the motion, but called the timing of the settlement announcement “unfortunate”.

He said a delay would do nothing to safeguard the problem of pre-trial publicity and that nowhere in the state of Minnesota had been protected from exposure to this case.

Protesters took to the street the day before jury selection, due to take three weeks, started
Image:Protesters took to the street the day before jury selection started earlier this month

Just over 70 people were questioned during the process of jury selection.

The majority of jurors summoned in the case admitted to prior knowledge of George Floyd’s death and almost all admitted to having a negative view of the defendant.

The case has drawn international attention and continues to see regular protests in the city – a community with intense emotions around the issue of policing and still recovering from last summer’s unrest.

The courthouse has been heavily fortified ahead of opening statements and 2,000 members of the National Guard will mobilised by the time of the verdict.

Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.

The trial is expected to last around four weeks.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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