Derek Chauvin trial live: Jurors can hear evidence related to George Floyd’s 2019 arrest, judge rules

MINNEAPOLIS — Jurors in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will be allowed to hear evidence related to George Floyd’s arrest in 2019, a year before the fatal encounter with police, the presiding judge ruled Friday.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill initially said the jury could not hear evidence related to the previous arrest. But Cahill heard fresh arguments this week after new evidence was uncovered in January from the police SUV involved in his 2020 arrest.

Cahill ruled that a portion of an officer’s body camera video of the incident could be admitted because it “goes to cause of death or medical condition.” A photo from the incident showing pills on the seat of a car can also be admitted.

Jurors can also hear what Floyd’s blood pressure was at the time of the prior arrest, as well as why a paramedic at the scene recommended Floyd go to the hospital.

“The whole point here is we have medical evidence of what happens when Mr. Floyd is faced with virtually the same situation,” Cahill said, adding, “The May 6th, 2019, incident is relevant only to that extent. Mr. Floyd’s emotional behavior, calling out for his mother – all of that is not admissible.”

The judge denied the defense’s request to move or delay the trial.

Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody on May 25, 2020, when Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. As he lay on the ground under Chauvin, Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times. The incident sparked protests worldwide.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Latest updates:

  • Court resumed at 8:15 a.m. CT Friday, with jury selection to resume at 9 a.m. CT
  • Twelve jurors — five men and seven women — have been selected so far. Six identify as white, two as multiracial and four as Black, according to the court. Five of the jurors are in their 20s or 30s, three in their 40s, three in their 50s and one in their 60s.
  • Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and city attorney Jim Rowader said Thursday they don’t think the city’s announcement of a $27 million civil settlement with the Floyd family has had a negative effect on the trial. But the presiding judge expressed frustration Thursday that city officials continued to talk about the settlement.
  • The trial is scheduled to begin March 29.

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‘There is no good timing to settle any case,’ city lawyer says

After the court cut two jurors who said they were swayed by the city’s $27 million settlement with the Floyd family, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and city attorney Jim Rowader said Thursday they don’t think the proceedings have been hurt by the settlement.

Rowader said in a press conference the city decided to move forward with the settlement in part because there was “no guarantee” the deal would’ve been available weeks or months from now. He declined to elaborate.

“There is no good timing to settle any case, particularly one as complex and involved and sensitive as this,” he said. “It’s clear from the judge’s comments this week that he does not want us to talk about the settlement at this time while they’re finishing jury selection.”

In court, Eric Nelson, the lead defense attorney, complained that the city had addressed the settlement at another press conference.

The prosecution brought it up again at the end of the day, spurring Cahill to angrily respond, “I’ve asked the City of Minneapolis to stop talking about it,” referring to the settlement. “Everybody just stop talking about it,” Cahill said. “Let me decide what the ramifications are.”

Six of the eight potential jurors questioned Thursday said they knew about the settlement, and all three people seated knew the amount. Only one juror said his awareness of the settlement would affect his impartiality – that it made him think Chauvin was guilty.

A look at Derek Chauvin’s jury after 12th juror selected

Twelve jurors, five men and seven women, have been selected for Chauvin’s trial. Given the circumstances of Floyd’s death — a Black man dying under the knee of a white police officer — the racial makeup of the jury is a key concern. Six of the jurors identify as white, two as multiracial and four as Black, according to the court.

The court added three women Thursday: a white nurse in her 50s, a Black grandmother in her 60s and a white woman in her 40s who works in insurance. With the new picks, the court now needs just two alternates to serve on the jury.

As of Thursday afternoon, the defense has used 12 of its 18 peremptory challenges, which it can use to strike potential jurors without having to explain why. The state has used six of its 10.

Jury selection encountered some setbacks earlier in the week. The court did not select any jurors Tuesday amid debate over whether they could be unbiased in such a high-profile case. And on Wednesday, the court cut two jurors because they said they were influenced by the city’s historic $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family.

Attorneys for the defense and prosecution have spent the past week and a half questioning potential jurors about their views on racism, discrimination, policing of communities of color and Black Lives Matter. But on Thursday, Eric Nelson, the lead defense attorney, told a prospective juror that the trial is “not about race.”

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