Jury selection has begun in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd, which sparked months of protests as well as violent riots across the country in 2020.
Jury selection began on Tuesday, with the first potential juror excused after she revealed during questioning that she believed the way Chauvin acted was “not fair.” The woman claimed to have seen the video showing Chauvin appearing to kneel on Floyd’s neck, and said she could not understand why he refused to get up when Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.
“That’s not fair, because we are humans, you know?” said the woman, per the Associated Press.
Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, told the court that the woman said in her questionnaire that she intended to be on the jury “to give my opinion of the unjust death of George Floyd.”
As with any jury trial, potential jurors are told to show that they can set aside their preexisting biases and review the evidence fairly. The woman told the court that she would be willing to change her opinion if she saw evidence from a different perspective. However, Nelson used one of his 15 peremptory challenges to dismiss her.
Chauvin’s defenders face an uphill battle in his defence, partly due to the virality of the video depicting Floyd’s death, which sparked not only riots but a nationwide conversation on policing and race relations.
Jurors also face potential backlash for arriving at conclusions undesirable to the mob, which has maintained without evidence that Floyd’s death was a deliberate murder at the hands of Chauvin and three other police officers present during Floyd’s arrest.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Jury selection continues despite uncertainty regarding whether or not the court will add a third-degree murder charge to the case. The state of Minnesota has asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to stop proceedings until that is decided, which could entail a delay of weeks or even months.
As the jury selection was underway, hundreds of people gathered outside the courthouse, many demanding “justice for George Floyd” and for Chauvin to be convicted.