Judge denies defense request to move Chauvin murder trial

In this screen grab from video, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over jury selection, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County
In this screen grab from video, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over jury selection, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County

Jury selection nearly complete.

Posted: Mar 19, 2021 7:30 AM
Updated: Mar 19, 2021 9:47 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A judge on Friday denied a defense request to delay or move the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death after the announcement of a $27 million settlement for Floyd’s family raised concern about a tainted jury.

In a separate ruling, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said he would allow the jury to hear limited evidence from Floyd’s 2019 arrest, but only that pertaining to the cause of Floyd’s death in 2020. He acknowledged there are several similarities between the two incidents, including that Floyd swallowed drugs after police confronted him.

The rulings were a blow to Derek Chauvin's defense. His attorney, Eric Nelson, had sought to halt or move the trial due to concerns that the settlement announcement had tainted the jury pool.

Jury selection was halfway complete last week when the city of Minneapolis unanimously approved the payout to settle a civil lawsuit over Floyd’s death. Nelson called the timing of the settlement deeply disturbing and unfair, and said it jeopardized Chauvin’s chance for a fair trial. Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter.

But Cahill, who has called the timing “unfortunate,” said he thought a delay would do nothing to stem the problem of pretrial publicity. As for moving the trial, he said there’s no place in Minnesota that hasn’t been touched by that publicity.

The judge had previously denied a defense attempt to allow the year-old arrest at trial. But he heard fresh arguments this week because of drugs found in January in a second search of the police SUV in which the four officers attempted to put Floyd in 2020.

He said Thursday that he would allow medical evidence of Floyd's physical reactions, such as his dangerously high blood pressure when he was examined by a paramedic, and a short clip of an officer’s body camera video. He said Floyd’s “emotional behavior” such as calling out to his mother in 2019 won’t be admitted.

Nelson argued that similarities between the encounters are relevant, with Floyd calling out for his mother, claiming he had been shot before, crying and putting what appeared to be pills in his mouth.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank said the defense was simply looking for a backdoor way to portray Floyd as a bad person, and the only relevant issue in Floyd’s death is how he was treated by police.

Floyd, who was Black, was declared dead May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee on Floyd’s 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.

Just two more jurors were needed for the trial. The 12 jurors seated through Thursday are evenly split by race, with six white jurors, four Black and two multiracial, according to the court. The last two jurors chosen will be alternates.

Opening statements are March 29 if the jury is complete. That process was on track to finish nearly a week early despite news that the city would pay a $27 million settlement to Floyd's family.

Jurors added Thursday include a white registered nurse in her 50s who assured the court that she wouldn’t draw on her medical knowledge at Chauvin’s trial, and a Black woman in her 60s who said she didn’t watch the entire bystander video of Floyd’s arrest and didn’t know enough to form a firm opinion of Chauvin or Floyd.

The 12th juror seated, a white woman in her 40s who works in commercial insurance, said she has experience with someone who struggled with alcohol, and might view someone who uses drugs cautiously, saying they could act violently or aggressively when under the influence.

But she said she doesn't believe someone who uses drugs or doesn’t cooperate with police should be treated poorly. “If someone uses drugs, I don’t think there should be ramifications of violence for that,” she said.

Three other former officers face an August trial in Floyd’s death on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604509

Reported Deaths: 7638
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1249671779
Ramsey52513897
Dakota46840471
Anoka42774458
Washington27428291
Stearns22557225
St. Louis18138313
Scott17551136
Wright16379149
Olmsted13399102
Sherburne1202095
Carver1067448
Clay826192
Rice8202110
Blue Earth762644
Crow Wing681795
Kandiyohi667985
Chisago619952
Otter Tail585884
Benton582998
Goodhue483874
Douglas475581
Mower470533
Winona461351
Itasca459763
Isanti440064
McLeod430661
Morrison424762
Beltrami407861
Nobles407650
Steele397816
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton353056
Freeborn347033
Pine334923
Nicollet331245
Mille Lacs311854
Brown307840
Le Sueur297326
Cass286232
Todd285633
Meeker263443
Waseca238023
Martin235332
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182446
Redwood176539
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163323
Fillmore157610
Faribault154719
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122712
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95418
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371101

Reported Deaths: 6053
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58263640
Linn21221339
Scott20308248
Black Hawk16157312
Woodbury15240230
Johnson1462385
Dubuque13510211
Dallas1129199
Pottawattamie11228174
Story1071648
Warren583791
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554095
Sioux517574
Webster515894
Muscatine4882106
Marshall486976
Des Moines467672
Wapello4338122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300957
Henry294637
Bremer288461
Carroll287152
Boone268634
Crawford268240
Benton259855
Washington257351
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232651
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212071
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198735
Page194522
Buchanan194033
Cedar192423
Hardin187544
Fayette186643
Wright186040
Hamilton181951
Harrison180073
Clayton171057
Butler166335
Madison164619
Mills163824
Floyd163442
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152952
Hancock150334
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137233
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131837
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124917
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113623
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96732
Monroe96431
Unassigned9540
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7618
Taylor66812
Fremont6269
Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
Van Buren56318
Wayne54423
Audubon53311
Adams3444
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