A judge said Friday he won’t delay or move the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder and manslaughter in George Floyd’s death. Chauvin’s attorneys had raised concerns that a $27 million settlement for Floyd’s family could taint the jury pool.
The judge will allow limited evidence from when Floyd was arrested in 2019. Meanwhile, a 13th juror was seated Friday — a woman who said she has only seen clips of the video of Floyd’s arrest and needs to learn more about what happened beforehand. The jury will include 12 jurors and two alternates, and jury selection will continue Monday morning.
The process was halfway complete last week when the Minneapolis City Council announced it had unanimously approved the massive payout to settle a civil rights lawsuit over Floyd’s death. Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, subsequently sought to halt or move the trial, calling the timing of the settlement deeply disturbing and saying it jeopardized Chauvin’s chance for a fair trial.
But Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who has called the timing “unfortunate,” said he thought a delay would do nothing to stem the problem of pretrial publicity. As for moving the trial, he said there’s no place in Minnesota that hasn’t been touched by that publicity.
The judge handed the defense a victory by ruling that the jury can hear evidence from Floyd’s 2019 arrest, but only evidence possibly pertaining to the cause of his death in 2020. He acknowledged there are several similarities between the two encounters, including that Floyd swallowed drugs after police confronted him.
The judge previously said the earlier arrest could not be admitted, but new evidence made him reconsider: Drugs were found in January in a second search of the police SUV that the four officers attempted to put Floyd inside last year. The defense argues that Floyd’s drug use contributed to his death.