A full jury has been seated in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of 46-year-old Black man George Floyd during a May 2020 arrest that ignited protests nationwide.
The panel of 12 jurors and three alternates was finalized on Tuesday morning after defense attorneys, prosecutors and the judge presiding over the case in Minneapolis spent 11 days questioning a pool of potential jurors on everything from their thoughts about racial inequalities of the justice system, the Black Lives Matter movement and whether they had formed any preconceived opinion about Chauvin's guilt or innocence.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill decided last Friday not to move the trial's location nor delay the proceedings.
"I think the pre-trial publicity will continue no matter how long we continue it," he said, adding, "I don't think there is any place in the state of Minnesota that has not been subjected to an extreme amount of publicity in this case."
Cahill said one of the jurors will likely be dismissed on Monday because there is only room in the courtroom for 14 members of the panel.
"The whole point of this 15th juror was to make sure that we have 14 people show up on Monday," Cahill said.
The latest juror picked is a married accountant in his 20s who self-identified as a white man.
With the complete jury selected, there are nine jurors who self-identify as white and six who self-identify as people of color, including four who self-identify as Black. They include a nurse, a route driver, a social worker, a client advocate in a commercial insurance business, an internet technology specialist, a retired grandmother with an undergraduate degree in childhood psychology and a woman who said she is "super excited" to be on the case.
Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, who are representing Floyd's family, released a following statement following the jury announcement, saying, "We are pleased that the jury has been seated and the Chauvin trial can proceed. After hearing the facts, we hope and expect the jury to deliver a just verdict."
They cited the prosecution's key piece of evidence -- a bystander video showing Chauvin with his knee on the back of Floyd's neck for a prolonged amount of time as three other officers held the handcuffed 46-year-old Floyd prone on the ground as he cried out, "I can't breathe."
"This is not a hard case. George Floyd had more witnesses to his death than any other person ever -- white or Black," their statement said. "We all saw the same thing, the indisputable and unjustified torture and murder by a police officer of a Black man who was handcuffed, restrained and posed no harm. If George Floyd had been white, the facts would be undisputed and justice would be swift. We expect the same for George."
During the jury selection, two jurors that had been chosen for the panel were removed from the case after inadvertently seeing or hearing about news reports that the city of Minneapolis had reached a $27 million settlement with Floyd's family. The two dismissed jurors said the announcement affected their ability to remain impartial and decide the case based solely on the trial evidence.
Cahill also said Friday he did not believe pretrial publicity in the case will cease and upped the number of juror alternates from two to three.
Cahill noted that of the 326 people selected to be part of the prospective jury pool, more than 60 were individually interviewed in person during the process.