MINNEAPOLIS – A juror who cast one of the unanimous votes to convict a white former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd's death said Wednesday that deliberations were relaxed and methodical as he and 11 other jurors quickly talked their way to agreement in parts of just two days.
Brandon Mitchell was the first juror who deliberated to come forward publicly since Derek Chauvin was convicted April 20 of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, following an alternate juror who wasn't part of deliberations. Mitchell, who is Black, said the jury room was a relief after three weeks of emotional testimony that he described as “like a funeral” day after day.
“It’s not human nature to watch people die," Mitchell said in an interview with The Associated Press, describing testimony that day after day included video of Floyd's desperate cries as he was held down by Chauvin. “You know you want to be able to help somebody... watching the same person die every day, and you see his family member in the (courtroom).”
Prosecutors said Chauvin pinned Floyd, a Black man, to the pavement outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis for 9 minutes, 29 seconds on May 25. Floyd had been accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at the store. Three other officers, since fired, face trial in August.
Prosecutors played a wide range of videos for the jury, including teenager Darnella Frazier’s bystander video that was seen worldwide in the hours after Floyd’s death. That video and the officers’ body camera video recorded bystanders shouting at Chauvin and the other officers to get off Floyd, warning that they were cutting off his breathing and asking them to check for a pulse.
“It's cold in the room. It just feels dark,” Mitchell said of the weeks of testimony. “It felt like a funeral in there... The decision was the easy part.”
Mitchell, 31, a high school basketball coach, recounted his jury experience in a round of interviews with multiple media outlets, including telling ABC's “Good Morning America” that he thought verdicts could have been reached even faster: “I felt like it should have been 20 minutes,” he said.
In his interview with AP, Mitchell described jurors settling down to work the afternoon after sitting through hours of closing arguments. They elected a foreperson, he said, “then we went straight to manslaughter,” with a preliminary vote and soon a final vote.