MINNEAPOLIS – A jury has been seated for the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd’s death, with opening statements set for Monday in a case that led to weeks of protests and a national soul-searching about racial justice.
The final juror was chosen Tuesday, wrapping up a process that took more than two weeks and was complicated by worldwide attention to Floyd’s death, even before the city of Minneapolis announced a $27 million settlement to his family during the fourth day of jury selection.
Attorneys and the judge worked through more than 100 people, dismissing most because they acknowledged strong views about an encounter that was captured on bystander video.
The panel now includes 15 jurors. Twelve will deliberate, with two alternates; Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill has said he will excuse the extra juror when opening statements begin on Monday if the 14 others still are able to serve.
Derek Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of Floyd. The Black man was declared dead after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against his neck for about nine minutes while he was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. The widely seen video set off street protests in Minneapolis, some violent, that spread across the U.S. and the world.
The final juror chosen, a white man in his 20s, is a married accountant who said he had a somewhat negative opinion of Chauvin, saying it seemed like the length of his restraint on Floyd was longer than necessary. But he said he would be able to put that aside and weigh the case based on the evidence.
He said Floyd’s death sparked discussions about racism at work, and he decided to educate himself by reading a book about the subject. He said he respects police and views Black Lives Matter somewhat favorably. However, he said some of the frustrations boiled over and may have been a factor in violent unrest in Minneapolis.
He also said he understands that professional athletes who kneel during the national anthem are trying to start a dialogue on race, but “I would prefer if someone would express their beliefs in a different manner.”