George Floyd case: Jury selection resumes in Derek Chauvin’s trial

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota judge resumed jury selection Tuesday in the case against former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who faces manslaughter and murder charges in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.

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Update 9:35 a.m. ET March 9: Jury selection in the Derek Chauvin trial begins at 9 a.m. local time Tuesday, one day after the process was paused to allow for an appeal court decision on whether the former Minneapolis police officer should face a third-degree murder charge.

On Monday, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said, barring direction from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, “we’re going to keep moving.”

In October 2020, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill granted part of a motion filed by Chauvin’s attorneys that sought to dismiss the charges against their client. In a 107-page order and opinion, Cahill said a charge of third-degree murder “can be sustained only in situations in which the defendant’s actions were ‘eminently dangerous to other persons’ and were not specifically directed at the particular person whose death occurred.”

Last week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected that argument, saying that Cahill failed to follow set precedent and pointing to the case of former Minneapolis police Officer Mohamed Noor. The appeals court upheld a third-degree murder conviction against Noor, who shot and killed 40-year-old Justine Damond while responding to a 911 call in 2017, last month.

Update 11:35 a.m. ET March 8: The process had been scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. local time and take as long as three weeks, NPR reported. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who is overseeing the case, paused the process for at least a day Monday to allow for an appeal of the possible reinstatement of a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin.

Cahill initially ruled that jury selection would begin as scheduled on Monday, but prosecutors said they would ask the Court of Appeals to intervene, which could put the case on hold, so the judge sent the potential jurors home for the day.

Original report: The potential juror pool includes Hennepin County residents 18 years old and older. They were sent questionnaires to determine how much they have heard about the case and whether they’ve formed any opinions. Besides biographical and demographic information, jurors were asked about prior contacts with police, whether they have protested against police brutality and whether they believe the justice system is fair.

>> Related: Judge drops 3rd-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death

Typically, a jury pool is questioned as a group; however, in this case, the judge, defense attorney and prosecutors will question each potential juror one by one, The Associated Press reported. The defense will be allowed to object to up to 15 potential jurors without giving a reason and prosecutors can block up to nine in the same manner, according to the AP. The other side can object to these so-called peremptory challenges if they believe the sole reason for disqualifying a juror is race or gender.

Jury selection will end after 14 people are picked – 12 jurors who will deliberate the case and two alternates who won’t be part of deliberations unless needed. The jurors will be escorted to the courthouse daily and sequestered during deliberations. Their names will be kept confidential until further order of the court.

Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. He could also face a third-degree murder charge after the Minneapolis Court of Appeals ruled that Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill erred when he previously dismissed the charge against Chauvin, citing to a lack of evidence. The appeals court pointed to its decision to uphold the third-degree murder conviction of former Minneapolis police Officer Mohamed Noor, who shot and killed 40-year-old Justine Damond while responding to a 911 call in 2017.

>> Related: George Floyd case: 3rd-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin must be reconsidered, court rules

Chauvin’s attorneys are appealing the decision to the state Supreme Court. On Monday morning, Cahill ruled that jury selection could begin as the case was pending before the state’s high court.

Floyd died May 25, 2020, while being detained for questioning in connection with a report of someone using a counterfeit $20 at a grocery store, according to police. Authorities arrested Chauvin after video surfaced on social media showing him pressing his knee to Floyd’s death for minutes as the 46-year-old Black man pleaded for air.

The Hennepin County medical examiner determined that Floyd’s heart stopped as he was being restrained and his death was ruled a homicide. A separate autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family also called his death a homicide but concluded that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.

Floyd’s death prompted global outrage and sparked a national reckoning over racism and police brutality.

Three other officers also face charges in Floyd’s death. Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They are expected to face juries in August.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.