Judge in George Floyd police trial weighs impact of $27 million settlement on jury
Published: Mar 16, 2021 07:38 PM
The judge in the trial of Derek Chauvin,  former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, said on Monday he was concerned publicity about the city's $27 million settlement with Floyd's family could influence jurors.

Philonese Floyd, brother of George Floyd, speaks to the press in Minneapolis, the US, on Friday. Photo: VCG

Philonese Floyd, brother of George Floyd, speaks to the press in Minneapolis, the US, on Friday. Photo: VCG

Calling the timing of Friday's settlement announcement "unfortunate," Judge Peter Cahill of the Hennepin County District Court said he would recall seven jurors seated so far to ask if they had seen news of the settlement and whether it would affect their impartiality.

"I wish city officials would stop talking about this case so much," the judge said before resuming jury selection on Monday morning. "At the same time, I don't find any evil intent that they are trying to tamper with the criminal case."

Chauvin, who is white, was captured in a bystander video with his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in handcuffs, cried out for his life. The death ignited global protests against racism and police brutality. The Minneapolis Police Department fired Chauvin and three other officers involved in the arrest the next day.

Floyd's family filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit against Chauvin and the city in 2020. The city called a news conference to announce the settlement, which included emotional comments by Floyd's brothers and Mayor Jacob Frey.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's lead lawyer, said the news was "profoundly disturbing" to the defense.

"By my count, this is the third highly prejudicial press leak or press release that has very suspicious timing, to say the least, and has an incredible propensity to taint a jury pool," he told the court.

Besides asking to recall the seven jurors already seated, Nelson requested the judge reconsider his request to move the trial to a different county, which Cahill said he would do. Prosecutors from the Minnesota attorney general's office told the court they had no control over the city's mayor, council or news media.

"You would agree that this is unfortunate, wouldn't you?" the judge responded to the prosecutors. "That we have this reported all over the media when we're in the midst of jury selection?"
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