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Judge in Derek Chauvin's murder trial dismisses two already-selected jurors after they said $27million wrongful death payout to George Floyd's family before trial WOULD sway their decision

 Two of the jurors who were selected for Derek Chauvin's murder trial have been dismissed after telling the judge that their decision in the case would be swayed by a $27million wrongful death settlement paid out to the family of George Floyd.

The payout by the city of Minneapolis was revealed on Friday, in the middle of jury selection for the trial and after seven of the panel had already been chosen.

A clearly frustrated Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill interviewed the seven jurors over Zoom on Wednesday morning and was only satisfied that five of them could still serve as fair and impartial in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer.


The judge was critical of the announced settlement, which he described as ‘unfortunate’ in its timing. 

The settlement easily surpassed the $20million the city approved two years ago to the family of a white woman killed by a police officer. Floyd family attorney Ben Crump called it the largest pretrial settlement ever for a civil rights claim, and thanked city leaders for 'showing you care about George Floyd.' 

Of the jurors who were excused on Wednesday from the jury the first admitted, ‘I have very strong opinions and clearly the City of Minneapolis has some strong opinions too that kind of confirms the opinions I already have.’ 

Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill (seen above in court on Wednesday)
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (seen above in court in Minneapolis on Wednesday)

Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill (seen left in court on Wednesday in Minneapolis) removed two of the first seven previously seated jurors in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (seen right in court on Wednesday)

Philonise Floyd (center), George Floyd's brother, gestures on Friday as he addresses the media during a news conference announcing a $27million dollar settlement with the City of Minneapolis at the Minneapolis Convention Center at the end of the first week of the trial of former police Derek Chauvin

Philonise Floyd (center), George Floyd's brother, gestures on Friday as he addresses the media during a news conference announcing a $27million dollar settlement with the City of Minneapolis at the Minneapolis Convention Center at the end of the first week of the trial of former police Derek Chauvin

The second juror admitted that the ‘sticker price’ of $27million had swayed him in a way that a $2000 pay out might not. 

He said, ‘I would say that the dollar amount was kind of shocking to me. That kind of sent the message that the City of Minneapolis saw a wrong and they wanted to make it right to the tune of that.’


The court has struggled to select jurors since the settlement was announced. On Monday just two people were selected, and on Tuesday none of the eight prospective jurors were approved. 


The defense has requested that the trial be delayed or moved to another city in the wake of the settlement. Judge Cahill will make a decision on that tomorrow. 

Attorneys for Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged for second- and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd, claim that he cannot get an impartial jury in light of the settlement's announcement. 

Cahill started the day Wednesday by angrily threatened to ‘throw the media’ out of proceedings having been infuriated by reports that detailed the security arrangements of the Justice Center’s 18th floor on which proceedings are taking place. 

Cahill on Wednesday questioned the jurors by video ahead of ordinary jury selection. 

The move came at the request of Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, who called the timing of last week's announcement by city leaders in the middle of jury selection 'profoundly disturbing' and 'not fair.'

Nelson has also requested a delay in the trial, which Cahill is considering. A decision by the judge on the issue could come as soon as Thursday.

Cahill has set opening statements for March 29 at the earliest, but dismissal of some of the jurors already seated could imperil that date.

Nine jurors had been seated through Tuesday, including five who are white, one who is multiracial, two who are black and one who is Hispanic. 

The jurors include six men and three women and range in age from their 20s to their 50s. 

Fourteen people, including two alternates, are needed.

Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of Floyd, a black man who was declared dead after Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck for about nine minutes. 

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.

On Tuesday, the two sides skirmished over whether evidence of Floyd's 2019 arrest in Minneapolis should be allowed at trial.

The judge previously rejected Chauvin's attempt to tell the jury about the arrest - a year before his fatal encounter with Chauvin - but heard fresh arguments Tuesday from both sides. 

He said he would rule on the request Thursday.

Nelson argued that new evidence makes the earlier arrest admissible: Drugs were found last December during a second search of the car Floyd was in, and were found in a January search of the squad car into which the four officers attempted to put Floyd.

He also argued the similarities between the encounters are relevant: Both times, as officers drew their guns and struggled to get Floyd out of the car, he called out for his mother, claimed he had been shot before and cried, and put what appeared to be pills in his mouth. 

Both searches turned up drugs in the cars. 

Officers noticed a white residue outside his mouth both times, although that has not been explained.

In the first arrest, several opioid pills and cocaine were found.  

Chauvin's attorney asks for trial to be moved after public settlement
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Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson (seen above in court on Tuesday), asked the judge on Monday to delay the trial, saying that the jury pool was 'tainted' by the announced settlement

Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson (seen above in court on Tuesday), asked the judge on Monday to delay the trial, saying that the jury pool was 'tainted' by the announced settlement

Pictured: Floyd family lawyer, Attorney Ben Crump (left), and Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis (right) shake hands at a press conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center after the city reached a $27 million 'wrongful death' settlement with the family of George Floyd

Pictured: Floyd family lawyer, Attorney Ben Crump (left), and Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis (right) shake hands at a press conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center after the city reached a $27 million 'wrongful death' settlement with the family of George Floyd

Chauvin is the officer who is seen in bystander video kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes on May 25, 2020
Floyd is seen in the undated file photo

Chauvin (left) is the officer who is seen in bystander video kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes on May 25, 2020. His attorneys claim that drugs found in Floyd's system were what caused his death. Floyd is seen right in the undated file photo

An autopsy showed Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system when he died.

'The similarities are incredible. The exact same behavior in two incidents, almost one year apart,' Nelson said. 


Paramedics who examined Floyd in 2019 warned him that his blood pressure was dangerously high, putting him at risk for a heart attack or stroke, and took him to a hospital for examination. 

Nelson argued that shows Floyd knew that swallowing drugs might result in going to the hospital rather than jail.

But prosecutor Matthew Frank argued that evidence from the 2019 arrest was prejudicial. 

He called it 'the desperation of the defense to smear Mr. Floyd's character, to show that what he struggled with an opiate addiction like so many Americans do, is really evidence of bad character.'

And he argued that the only relevant thing in Floyd's death is how he was handled by Chauvin and the other officers.

'What these officers were dealing with is what they were responsible for,' Frank said.

'What is relevant to this case is what they knew at the scene at this time.'

Cahill said he would stop the defense 'very quickly' from suggesting at trial that Floyd didn't deserve sympathy because he used drugs.

'You don't just dirty up someone who has died in these circumstances as a defense,' he said. 

But he said he would weigh the defense's argument that alleged drug use during the 2019 arrest that led to 'a hypertensive emergency' is relevant to what may have caused Floyd's death in 2020. 

'I think that's, that's the only relevance I see,' Cahill said.

One legal expert said he saw legitimate grounds for Cahill to allow the 2019 arrest at trial given the evidence found in the follow-up searches of the cars. 

But he said it also could unfairly prejudice the jury against Floyd.

'The problem is, it's not possible to do one without doing the other,' said Ted Sampsell-Jones, a professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. 

'The evidence does have some legitimate relevance, but it also carries a significant potential for unfair prejudice. It's a difficult evidence problem that Judge Cahill will have to carefully balance.'

Michael Brandt, a local defense attorney, said the new evidence would bolster the argument that Floyd had a 'propensity for ingesting pills when being arrested' and that he knew that it could be a way to stay out of jail. 

That might be enough for jurors to pass up convicting Chauvin on the most serious charges, Brandt said.

The question of Floyd's drug use has played out in jury selection, with prosecutors gauging prospective jurors' attitudes.

One person picked for the jury, a black man in his 30s, said he didn't judge drug users more harshly than others.

'My opinion on them is no different than my opinion on anybody else. It's just something they are struggling with, they are possibly trying to get through,' he said.

Another, a white man in his 30s, said he'd heard news stories that Floyd may have been under the influence of drugs, but when asked what he thought about it said he didn't think it should affect the case.

'Whether you are under the influence of drugs doesn't determine whether you should be living or dead,' he said.

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

1 comment:

  1. Fentanyl Floyd had an appointment with death and he was not 1 millisecond late... "But prosecutor Matthew Frank argued that evidence from the 2019 arrest was prejudicial. He called it 'the desperation of the defense to smear Mr. Floyd's character". What "character"? That he was a known ILLEGAL DRUG USER, a known ILLEGAL DRUG SELLER, a known ILLEGAL ROBBER, a known ILLEGAL HOME INVADER, a passer of ILLEGAL COUNTERFEIT MONEY? THAT "character"? GOOD RIDDANCE to that trash. Should have happened sooner. He caused his OWN DRUG INDUCED DEATH.

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