MINNEAPOLIS (NewsNation Now/AP) — Opening statements are set to begin Monday at 10:00 a.m. in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd.
Ex-cop Derek Chauvin is charged with unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 25 death.
The defense had made clear that they will make an issue of Floyd swallowing drugs before his arrest, seeking to convince the jury that he was at least partially responsible for his death. Nelson won a partial victory during jury selection when Cahill, reconsidering an early ruling, said he would allow some evidence from Floyd’s 2019 arrest in Minneapolis in which he also swallowed drugs. In the 2019 case, paramedics were called to the scene and noted Floyd’s dangerously high blood pressure.
Cahill said he would allow medical evidence of Floyd’s physical reactions, such as his dangerously high blood pressure when he was examined by a paramedic in 2019, and a short clip of an officer’s body camera video. He said Floyd’s “emotional behavior,” such as calling out to his mother, won’t be admitted.
The county medical examiner classified Floyd’s death as a homicide in an initial summary that said he “had a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by police.” Floyd was declared dead at a hospital 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from where he was restrained.
The full report said he died of “cardiopulmonary arrest, complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” A summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death.”
Defense attorneys had sought to delay or move Chauvin’s trial over concerns that the settlement approved by the Minneapolis City Council for Floyd’s family had tainted the jury pool. But Cahill last week denied the request, calling the timing “unfortunate” but saying he believed a delay would do nothing to stem the problem of pretrial publicity, and that there’s no place in Minnesota untouched by it.
The settlement announcement briefly disrupted jury selection, with two jurors that had been seated dismissed after they said it had affected their impartiality. But five others that had been seated said either that they had avoided the settlement news or could set it aside, and selection continued until the jury was complete.
Of the first 14 jurors seated, eight are white, four are Black and two are multiracial, according to the court. Nine are women and five are men, and they range in age from their 20s to their 60s. The race and age of the 15th juror were not immediately released by the court.
The judge said he would keep the jury pool in place until opening statements begin in the event that more alternates need to be chosen. Chauvin’s trial is being conducted amid the pandemic, with heightened risk for jurors to fall ill despite social distancing, mask-wearing and plastic shields in the courtroom.
It’s unclear which jurors will be the alternates. Legal experts said it’s almost always the last people chosen, but the court said that wouldn’t necessarily be the case for Chauvin’s jury.