MINNEAPOLIS — The judge overseeing the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd dismissed two jurors Wednesday morning who had previously been selected to sit on the jury.
The unusual move came after Judge Peter Cahill recalled seven jurors for fresh questioning. All seven had been selected last week before the city announced a $27 million settlement with George Floyd's family.
On Monday, Derek Chauvin's defense attorney, Eric Nelson, argued the announcement would taint the jury pool and he was "gravely concerned" about his client's chances of a fair trial. While Cahill agreed the timing was unfortunate, he allowed jury selection to continue.
Nelson requested the recall of the seven jurors.
Wednesday morning, Cahill re-questioned the jurors one-by-one, asking if they had seen any story or information about the city's settlement. Some had.
At least one of the jurors questioned said the amount of the settlement was like "sticker shock" and it swayed his opinion. He was dismissed. Along with another juror who told the judge the settlement news will "impact him at lot."
There needs to be 14 jurors selected, to allow for two alternates. After removing the two jurors, and adding two new ones Wednesday afternoon, there are now nine people on the jury. Of those, five are men and four are women; four are white, three are Black, one identifies as multiracial and one has not been identified at this time.
Nelson has also requested a delay in the trial and suggested he may seek a change of venue. Cahill said Wednesday he would issue a ruling on the delay request, and another request to allow details of Floyd's 2019 arrest, on Friday.
Opening statements are scheduled for March 29, at the earliest.
Chauvin is facing murder and manslaughter charges in the May 25, 2020 death of Floyd. Chauvin and several others who were employed by Minneapolis police at the time responded after Floyd was accused of stealing cigarettes from a convenience store.
Video taken from the scene shows Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
Floyd’s death sparked months-long protests against police brutality across the country and sparked conversations about racial equity and police reform.
Also on Wednesday, Cahill warned reporters about reading and reporting information on notepads on the defense and prosecution tables, as well as describing security on the courthouse floor. The judge said he would exclude the media from the courtroom if reporting on those topics continues.
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