Chauvin trial: Final juror seated; opening statements set for Monday

Two people sit behind a desk.
In this image taken from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson (left), defendant former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (right) and Nelson's assistant Amy Voss (back) introduce themselves to jurors on Tuesday.
Screenshot of Court TV video

MPR News will stream live coverage of the trial on Facebook on Monday, March 29. Some images or material discussed during the trial will be disturbing to many viewers. Watch the Tuesday court proceedings here:

3 things to know:

  • Jury selection has wrapped up with the 15th juror seated

  • The last juror will be dismissed if none of the others drop out by Monday

  • Opening statements to begin Monday


Updated: 11:57 a.m.

The 15th and final juror has been seated for the trial of ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death, with opening statements set for Monday.

The man selected Tuesday, a white man in his 20s, described himself as an accountant and a sports fan. When asked by prosecutor Steve Schleicher about his opinion on athletes who “take a knee” during the national anthem, the man said, “I would prefer if someone would express their beliefs in a different manner. But I understand what they are trying to do and raise the dialogue on certain issues.”

The man said that after watching the bystander video from May 25, 2020, he felt like Chauvin’s use of force lasted too long. He said he generally believes racial minorities are treated unfairly by the criminal justice system. And he strongly disagrees with the notion of defunding the Minneapolis Police Department. 

“I believe the force is a necessary and integral part of our society,” he said.

The man will be dismissed if none of the other jurors drop out by Monday. The court is in recess until then.

Chauvin, an ex-Minneapolis police officer, faces charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s killing last May while in police custody.

Three people stand during a trial in a courtroom.
In this image taken from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson (left), defendant former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (right) and Nelson's assistant Amy Voss (back) introduce themselves to jurors on Monday.
Via Court TV

The judge is protecting the identities of people in the jury pool. There are cameras in the courtroom, but they are not allowed to show the potential jurors, who are identified only by number, not name.  

The jury comprises three Black men, including two who are immigrants; one Black woman; two women who identify as multiracial; three white men; and six white women.

Resisting arrest, or a panic attack?

Floyd’s cause of death will be a central and “highly contested” issue at trial, Judge Peter Cahill told the court Friday. Bystander video showed Chauvin with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes as the man lay face down and handcuffed, pleading that he couldn’t breathe.

The defense theory is that Floyd’s death “is due in part to drug toxicity and not to positional asphyxia or other causes,” Cahill said. “The state and its experts opine otherwise, saying that it is positional asphyxia and the restraint that was placed on George Floyd” by Chauvin.

Cahill agreed to allow some body camera footage from Floyd’s May 6, 2019, arrest that shows Floyd’s physical reaction to officers as they take him into custody.

“The whole point here is we have medical evidence on what happens when Mr. Floyd is faced with virtually the same situation — confrontation by police, at gunpoint,” the judge said Friday.

A paramedic who attended to Floyd that day can testify that Floyd’s blood pressure during the 2019 arrest was so high he was at risk of a stroke or heart attack.

The judge, however, will not allow a state witness to testify as to Floyd’s emotional reactions, which the defense says are very similar to his behavior during his fatal encounter with police on May 25, 2020.

Prosecutors had said they wanted to refute the notion that Floyd was resisting arrest last May and offer a forensic psychiatrist’s testimony to explain that Floyd couldn’t comply with officers’ orders to get into the squad car because he was suffering from anxiety or a panic attack.

George Floyd Officer Trial
In this screen grab from video, prosecutor Steve Schleicher speaks during jury selection on Friday in the trial of Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse.
Screenshot of Court TV

Cahill ruled Friday that’s not admissible unless the defense says something to open the door to that line of inquiry. 

The judge cautioned that if the psychiatrist testimony was allowed, ”then the entire 2019 arrest would be in as well, since the defense would have a right to confront her opinion by playing the entire videotape of Mr. Floyd’s emotional reaction” that day.


Trial basics

Defendant ex-cop Derek Chauvin and his attorney stand during a trial.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson (left) and defendant former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (right) and Nelson's assistant Amy Voss (back) introduce themselves to potential jurors Monday at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.
Via Court TV

Who’s who: A look at the key players in the trial.

Need to know: 14 key questions about the trial, answered.

What we know about the jurors: The 12 jurors and three alternates picked to review the case include a chemist, a youth volunteer, a cardiac nurse and an IT professional.

Chauvin's lawyer is outnumbered, but has help: No fewer than four attorneys have appeared for the prosecution so far, compared to a single attorney to defend Derek Chauvin.

MPR News on its coverage: Nancy Lebens, the newsroom’s deputy managing editor, answered audience questions about our reporting plans.


George Floyd and his legacy

A group of people stand on a stage while a man speaks from a podium
Attorney Ben Crump (left) speaks to the press, standing next to Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, along with family members of George Floyd and City Council members. The City Council unanimously has agreed to a $27 million civil settlement with George Floyd's family.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

Remembering George Floyd, the man: Before he became a symbol in the fight for racial justice, friends say Floyd was a “gentle giant” who sought a fresh start.

Making George Floyd Square: Here’s how the site of Floyd’s killing — 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis — is being reshaped.

Rescuing the plywood — and memorializing a movement: Two Black women are leading the effort to preserve the murals painted on storefront boards in the Twin Cities.

Calls for change: Here’s what some Floyd activists tell MPR News about their experiences with race in Minnesota, why they march and what they hope for the future.


Read more

People march down a street behind a banner.
People march through downtown Minneapolis holding banners and signs calling for justice in the killing of George Floyd and other people killed by police on March 8.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

Mpls. church holds 'safe space' to deal with trauma after Floyd’s death: Jalilia A-Brown, a pastor who leads community engagement at Shiloh Temple, said it is a place where anyone, especially Black Minneapolis residents, can come to be supported — and never judged.

Who belongs on Chauvin's jury? Three community members discuss how jury selection does or doesn’t work — and how it should work. (Sahan Journal)

What is the impact of racially diverse juries? Scholars, courts and legal groups have increasingly advocated for greater jury diversity — not just of race, but of gender and socioeconomic backgrounds — as a way to make trials fairer. (The Associated Press)

Your questions about the Chauvin trial, answered: Why are potential jurors asked about religion, who can dismiss them and why can the jury hear about Derek Chauvin’s past but not George Floyd’s?


Questions about the Chauvin trial? Ask us

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