MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The $27 million settlement between the City of Minneapolis and the family of George Floyd appears to be slowing jury selection in the Derek Chauvin trial.
The court did not seat a single juror Tuesday in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in Floyd’s death.
The announcement of the historic settlement continues to make waves. Several potential jurors said they could not be fair and impartial on Tuesday, causing Judge Peter Cahill to express some frustration.
“Eight out of the last 11 have been [struck for] cause, so we’re grinding to a halt,” Cahill said.
Judge Cahill also said Tuesday the seven jurors chosen before the settlement was announced will be called back Wednesday to be questioned via Zoom to see if they heard anything about it.
Joe Tamburino is a defense attorney not connected to the case.
“I think they’re going to be more relaxed, and I think we could get a lot more information from them,” Tamburino said.
He says if any of them say they can’t get past the settlement, they may be struck.
“And you’ll have to continue on with the rest of the potential jurors, and you’ll have to replace the ones excluded,” Tamburino said.
And there’s concern surrounding which city council member helped usher the deal along. Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said this on Friday: “I also want to acknowledge the leadership of Jeremiah Ellison, who was part of our mediation team, and who’s leadership was crucial in this, and so much more of the challenges that are facing our city.”
Ellison’s father is Attorney General Keith Ellison, head of the prosecuting team.
“I am gravely concerned with the news that broke on Friday relative to the civil suit,” Nelson said.
WCCO spoke with four legal experts. Three said they don’t see this as a conflict of interest. One said it could be because of the familial relationship — a notion that prosecutor Steve Schleicher refuted.
“In terms of the sort of inference that this was somehow coordinated by the state of Minnesota, it wasn’t,” Schleicher said.
Also in court on Tuesday, defense attorney Eric Nelson filed a motion to show video during the trial of Floyd’s arrest one year before his death — a move prosecutors oppose.
Judge Peter Cahill previously ruled the video could not be admitted, but since then, the defense says another search of MPD squad car 320 — the vehicle where Chauvin and the other three accused officers briefly held Floyd in the fatal arrest — yielded drugs that reportedly appeared chewed, and had Floyd’s DNA on them.
“It’s just kind of mind boggling that an extensive search was not done until January 2021,” Cahill said.
In the tape from May of 2019, Floyd is seen struggling with police, and officers accuse him of swallowing drugs.
“Spit out what you got! Spit out what you got! You’re eating pills,” an officer says in the video.
Floyd is also faintly heard in the video calling out for his mother. Nelson called the similarities between the two arrests “incredible.”
“It’s the exact same behavior in two incidents, almost exactly one year apart,” Nelson said.
Also in the video, a paramedic is heard warning Floyd that his blood pressure was extremely high after swallowing the drugs, and he needed to go to a hospital. But prosecutor Matthew Frank argued the May 2019 incident is not related.
“To say that he’s on notice, and so therefore he somehow gave up the right to be treated reasonably by police officers arresting him escapes me,” Frank said.
Judge Cahill says he will evaluate the defense’s request, and rule Thursday on whether or not the May 2019 arrest video will be allowed.
Nine jurors have been chosen in all. Five more are needed, two of which will serve as alternates. Jury selection is scheduled to follow the re-questioning of the seated jurors at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Judge Cahill is expected to rule on a number of motions Thursday, including the 2019 arrest video and the defense’s request for a delay.
Source: CBS Minnesota