Court TV, via AP, Pool
Derek Chauvin, the police officer who is charged with killing George Floyd, is expected to face trial starting March 29. Chauvin faces charges of manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder in Floyd’s death.
On May 25, 2020, a video circulated the Internet showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until he died. Floyd’s killing caused nationwide protests over police brutality. Almost a year later, the case will finally appear before a judge in a courtroom.
The first stage of the trial began with picking the jurors, which occurred on Tuesday, March 9, according to The New York Times. Jury selection could take several weeks to narrow down to just 12 people. Since the video was viewed nationwide, the court wants to ensure that the jurors won’t go into the trial with a bias before they have reviewed all of the evidence.
There are several things to know about the case before the trial begins. According to The New York Times, a $27 million settlement in a civil rights wrongful death lawsuit for Floyd’s family could possibly influence jurors’ decisions.
Sara Schiavoni, a professor in JCU’s Department of Political Science, said that two jurors were excused from the jury after being questioned about their knowledge of the settlement.
“This will be a very long trial, with a lot of explosive testimony, so I’m not sure the settlement will be in the forefront of the jurors minds when they deliberate week from now,” Schiavoni added.
The former chief public defender, Mary Moriarty, said that Chauvin’s lawyers might ask for a mistrial due to the timing of this announcement so close to the trial.
Judge Peter A. Cahill will oversee the trial. Cahill agreed to allow the prosecutors to add on the charge of third-degree murder against Chauvin, who before the added charge, was facing an even more serious charge of second-degree murder.
When Chauvin was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department and arrested on May 29, 2020 the first charge was third-degree murder. Chauvin agreed to plead guilty to the charge, but former U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr rejected the agreement, which also included a guarantee that Chauvin wouldn’t face federal civil rights charges. The first count of third-degree murder was dismissed by Cahill, but he added the charge again after hearing arguments by Chauvin’s lawyer and a prosecutor last week.
Schiavoni said, “I think this trial is an opportunity for Americans to see our criminal justice system in action. I hope that they realize most prosecutors and judges are elected, which means they are representing us, the people. If we want to see changes in the system, we need to start by holding our elected officials accountable.”
Chauvin has been out on bail since October 2020 and has been in court since the trial moved ahead in the past week.
The trial is to be livestreamed when it begins on March 29.