George Floyd: First jurors for Derek Chauvin trial chosen

Author : beritasiang
Publish Date : 2021-03-13 12:48:51

George Floyd: First jurors for Derek Chauvin trial chosen

The city of Minneapolis has reached a $27m (£19m) settlement with the family of George Floyd, the unarmed US black man whose death last May sparked protests worldwide.

Mr Floyd's death after being trapped under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin was captured on camera.

Lawyers for the family said the footage created "undeniable demand for justice and change".

Jury selection for Mr Chauvin's murder trial is currently under way.

Six out of 12 jurors have been selected for hearings beginning on 29 March.

The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to approve the pre-trial settlement, the largest ever awarded in the state of Minnesota.

"That the largest pre-trial settlement in a wrongful death case ever would be for the life of a black man sends a powerful message that black lives do matter and police brutality against people of colour must end," said Floyd family attorney Ben Crump.
What led the George Floyd family to sue?

In a video of Mr Floyd's death that went viral on social media, four police officers confront the man for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at a local shop.

They drag him to the ground and Mr Chauvin places his knee on Mr Floyd's neck, even as he begs for his life and says "I can't breathe". He was later pronounced dead in hospital.

Lawyers for the Floyd family filed a civil suit one month later, in June 2020.

They argued the city had been negligent for failing to train officers in proper restraint techniques and for not dismissing officers with a poor track record. Dozens of complaints had previously been filed against Mr Chauvin, who had been serving on the city police force for 19 years.

Speaking after the settlement was announced, Mr Crump said it was but "one step" on the journey to justice. Mr Floyd's death was a catalyst for reckoning on race and bias, he said. 

What's the latest on the criminal trial?

The civil settlement comes at the end of the first week in criminal court proceedings over Mr Chauvin's murder trial.

The former officer is facing charges of second and third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. If found guilty on all counts, he could face a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

Six jurors have been selected for the trial so far.

The final bench will require 12 jurors and four alternates - or substitutes - but suitable jurors have been hard to find in this emotionally charged and high-profile case.

The three other officers involved in Mr Floyd's death - J Alexander Keung, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane - were charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter, and will be tried separately later this year.

The first jurors have been picked in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin over the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.

On Tuesday, two men and one woman were selected for the 12-member jury.

Mr Chauvin, 44, is accused of second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter in the death of Mr Floyd on 25 May last year.

The less severe charge of third-degree murder was dismissed last year, but prosecutors have asked to reinstate it.

The maximum sentence he faces is 40 years.

Despite the dispute over the additional charge, Judge Peter Cahill moved forward with jury selection on Tuesday, after a one-day delay.

The first juror selected, a chemist, who was white and in his 20s or 30s, described himself as "logical" and passionate about his work. He had not seen the video of Floyd's death, he said.

The second juror, who appeared to be of mixed race and in her 20s, said she had seen the video only once and was eager to hear all the evidence as a juror.

The third juror, an auditor, who was white, said that he would also examine guilt or innocence only from what is presented in the trial. All three swore to keep an open mind and weigh all the proof presented in determining the outcome of the high-profile case.

The trial is scheduled to begin on 29 March. Jury selection continues on Wednesday. A total of 14 jurors are needed to make up the panel and alternates. George Floyd death: How will jurors be selected?

It was video footage seen across the world - Derek Chauvin with his knee pressed on the neck of George Floyd for about nine minutes before he died.

Now the former US police officer faces trial on second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

Three other dismissed officers will stand trial together later this year, but proceedings in Mr Chauvin's trial will start on Monday, when jury selection begins.

How will the jury be picked?

A pool of eligible local citizens has been called to appear by Hennepin County in Minnesota. From them, a jury of 12 and four alternates will be selected. It could take weeks.

Although it is highly unlikely potential jurors will have no prior knowledge of the case - George Floyd's death in May last year in Minneapolis inspired weeks of global protests - they will be questioned to determine whether they will be able to judge Derek Chauvin fairly.

The prosecution and defence can both ask Judge Peter Cahill to dismiss a potential juror "for cause" if they perceive bias. The prosecution can also dismiss nine potential jurors - and the defence team 15 - without giving any reason, although this can be objected to.

Once 16 people have been approved, the jury can be seated. The trial itself will not begin until 29 March.

Each potential juror has already been asked to fill in a 16-page questionnaire about the case.
What's in the questionnaire?

The main thrust is to determine familiarity with the case and issues such as a potential juror's own interactions with law enforcement.

Key questions include:

How many times did you see the video of George Floyd's death?

Did you participate in marches against police brutality and, if so, did you carry a sign?

What are your views of the group Blue Lives Matter (the movement supporting police) - favourable or unfavourable?

Do you believe our criminal justice system works?

How potential jurors respond can lead to either defence or prosecution dismissing them.

Prof Valerie Hans, a jury researcher based at Cornell Law School, says the questionnaire is more detailed and personal than most pre-trial documents, and asks about their "deepest attitudes on some of the most important political and social topics of the day".

Prof Hans says the aim for the two teams is to get "a sense of whether or not a prospective juror will be open to the kinds of arguments that they intend to make over the course of the trial".

The selection process is different from the UK. Jury trials there are less common, and jurors - picked at random - don't know which trial they will serve on until they've been sworn in. Jurors can only be dismissed by a judge in very specific circumstances.

Category : general

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