Two men and one woman have so far been chosen to be on the jury for the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of brutally murdering George Floyd on 25th May 2020. Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for approximately nine minutes until Floyd died, has been charged with second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter, and third-degree murder. The charges are separate, so Chauvin can be convicted on one, some, none, or all of the charges. If he is convicted on all charges, Chauvin could face up to 75 years in prison.
The killing of George Floyd sparked outrage across America, and footage of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck was widely viewed. His murder led to widespread Black Lives Matter protests, and the issue of systemic racism became a major talking point in 2020. It also led many people to call for police reforms to make the justice system fairer for African Americans, with some going as far as to suggest that the police should be defunded.
As Chauvin knelt on his neck, Floyd repeatedly said ‘I can’t breathe’ as he gasped for air. ‘I can’t breathe’ has since become a rallying cry for racial justice, with millions taking to the streets in protest after Floyd’s death to demand justice for him and other African Americans such as Breonna Taylor and Tamir Rice, who were also killed by law enforcement officers in what many believe to be racially motivated killings. Floyd, Taylor, and Rice were all unarmed at the time of their deaths, and Rice was only 12 years old.
Another high-profile murder in 2020 was that of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African American, was shot to death by three white men whilst jogging. Arbery was unarmed. One of the suspects is a former police officer, and many people at the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests also protested on Arbery’s behalf, demanding justice in his case.
The infamousness of Floyd’s murder makes jury selection a difficult task, as in order for a fair trial to take place it is necessary to find impartial jurors. So far, three people have been selected to serve on the jury for the trial. They are a white male chemist in his 20s or 30s (Juror No. 2), a female who appeared to be of mixed race and in her 20s (Juror No. 9), and a white financial auditor. The first juror said he had not seen the video of Floyd’s death, whilst the second juror said she had only seen the video once. All three jurors swore to keep an open mind and to weigh all the proof presented during the trial.
The trial is scheduled to begin on 29th March, after being delayed from its original date of 8th March due to prosecutors asking for a previously dropped additional charge of third-degree murder to be reinstated, a request which was granted by a judge earlier this week. The other officers who were involved in Floyd’s murder (all of whom were either assisting or not stopping Chauvin from kneeling on George Floyd’s neck)- Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao- face lesser charges and will be tried separately.