The first three jurors were selected on Tuesday for the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd.
The selections came during a day of court proceedings in which nine potential jurors were asked questions by the judge, prosecutors and Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer about a wide range of issues, including their views on the police, on the Black Lives Matter movement and how much they had already read or watched about Mr. Floyd’s death. Six of the potential jurors were sent home, some of whom were nixed by the judge and some whom were struck by prosecutors or Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer.
Prosecutors at one point challenged whether Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, had struck a potential juror because he was Hispanic, but the judge sided with Mr. Nelson, agreeing that there were several valid reasons for him to not want the man on the jury.
The two sides will ultimately need to select a total of 12 jurors and up to four alternate jurors. The pace of the process on Tuesday indicated that they may move more quickly than had been expected. The judge has said he was hoping for opening arguments to begin in the case on March 29.
Looming over the case is the question of whether an additional charge of third-degree murder will be added against Mr. Chauvin. His lawyer has asked the State Supreme Court to reverse a ruling that ordered the trial court judge to consider adding that charge. Prosecutors have also asked an appeals court to halt the trial until the matter has been decided, but the court has not yet ruled on that request.
The three jurors who were chosen on Tuesday include two white men and one woman of color.
The first man chosen was a chemist who described himself as “logical” and had said on a questionnaire that he wanted to serve on the jury. Despite having some feelings of trepidation about being a juror, the man said, he was not “scared to take on a trial of this magnitude.”
The man said he was in favor of “community policing” and the idea that police officers should be “connecting” with residents, but said he disagreed that the Minneapolis police were more likely to use force against Black people than white people. He also said that though he may have formed an initial opinion about Mr. Floyd’s death, he now could not say whether Mr. Chauvin was to blame. “Opinions and facts are important distinctions for me,” he said.
The second man selected, an auditor, said he had seen parts of the widely shared video of Mr. Chauvin holding his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck several times on the news. He said that he had a “somewhat negative” view of Mr. Chauvin but that he had no opinion on whether he was guilty or innocent.
He said he had heard that Mr. Floyd had previously been arrested and that he was under the influence of drugs on May 25, the day he died, but he said he did not believe that those things should “have much impact on the case.”
The woman who was chosen for the jury seemed eager to be on the jury, and replied with one word when Judge Peter A. Cahill told her that she would serve as a juror: “Awesome.”
The woman said she became “even more” excited about jury duty when she realized what case she was being considered for. She described herself as an “open-minded” person, said she felt somewhat negatively toward Mr. Chauvin and said she believed that Black people were discriminated against in the criminal justice system, citing disproportionate rates of incarceration.
She said she had an uncle who was a police officer in northern Minnesota. Asked if she could keep an open mind throughout the trial, she said “absolutely.”
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