Jury selection in 3rd week for ex-cop’s trial in Floyd death

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In this image taken from video, Hennepin County Judge PeterCahill presides over jury selection, Monday, March 22, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

MINNEAPOLIS – A 14th juror was seated Monday for the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death, leaving just one more to be selected before the proceedings against Derek Chauvin can begin.

The newest juror is a white social worker in her 20s who said she has talked with friends about police reform and that she thinks “there are things that should be changed.” But she also described police and their jobs as important, and said she is “always looking at every side of things.”

A total of 14 jurors will hear the case — 12 to deliberate and two alternates — but Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said a 15th juror will be selected just in case; That juror will be excused when opening statements begin March 29 if the other 14 are still able to serve.

Cahill told attorneys that up to 12 potential jurors will be questioned on Tuesday if necessary, so they should be prepared for a long day.

“We’re going to get through 12, however long it takes tomorrow, because we only need the one ... so 12 or bust,” Cahill said.

Floyd, who was Black, was declared dead May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee on his neck for about nine minutes while he was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death, captured on a widely seen bystander video, set off weeks of sometimes violent protests across the country and led to a national reckoning on racial justice.

On Friday, Cahill declined a defense request to delay or move Chauvin's trial over concerns that a $27 million settlement for Floyd’s family had tainted the jury pool. Cahill, who called the timing of the settlement announcement “unfortunate,” said he believed a delay would do nothing to stem the problem of pretrial publicity, and that there’s no place in Minnesota untouched by that publicity.

In another significant ruling Friday, the judge ruled that the jury can hear evidence from Floyd’s 2019 arrest, but only information possibly pertaining to the cause of his death.