Derek Chauvin trial: Meet the jurors
As of Monday, eight jurors have been confirmed to serve on the jury during the Derek Chauvin trial, a former Minneapolis police officer who faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, plus a third-degree murder charge in the death of George Floyd.
The eight jurors consist of three white men, one white woman, two Black men, a Hispanic man and a multiracial woman.
As of Friday at 1:55 p.m., a total of 27 jurors have been addressed.
The following is a more detailed look at each juror:
Juror No. 2
Juror No. 2, a white man in his 20s, was the first juror selected by Cahill. The juror is a chemist with an environmental science degree. He lives in Minneapolis and said he has not yet seen the video of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck as of Tuesday. However, the man said he has seen the still image. When he mentioned in court that he visited the area of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis, he explained, saying "it happened in my city and it was a transformative event."
The juror said he believes that mandatory minimums are racially biased, based on statistics, after Chauvin’s Attorney Eric Nelson brought the topic up. However, the juror told the defense he does not believe that the Minneapolis Police Department is more likely to confront Black suspects with more force than white suspects.
When asked if the juror either had underlying intentions to answer questions to get on or off the jury, his response was "my answers were truthful."
The man said he supports the Black Lives Matter movement, but views the organization itself unfavorably. He also has an unfavorable view of the Blue Lives Matter movement. He said everyone should matter the same.
"The whole point of that is that all lives should matter equally, and that should include police," he said.
The juror shared a background of resolving conflict, as he worked as a summer camp counselor for "seven to eight" summers. He says he bases his conclusions on conflict based on analysis and facts. When asked if he could decide the case based on the evidence, he said, "I’d rely on what I hear in court."
Juror No. 9
Juror No. 9, a multiracial woman in her 20s, who is originally from northern Minnesota, was the second person selected on the jury. She expressed her excitement — both when she was summoned to court and when the judge confirmed she would be on the jury. Her reasoning was that she "finds the process fascinating." She describes her personality as a "go-with-the-flow" approach.
She mentioned to the court that her uncle is a police officer in Brainerd. Despite the relationship, she says it will not have any impact on her decision-making in the trial. She said she initially had a negative perception of Chauvin because of what she saw in the bystander video.
"That video just makes you sad," she said. "Nobody wants to see somebody die, whether it was his fault or not."
She said there could be many reasons why Chauvin would pin Floyd to the ground, and that while she has heard Floyd had drugs in his system when he died, she understands that may not have been a factor in his death.
She also described herself as a mediator between her friends, able to solve conflict by reading people’s body language and using logic.
In regards to both the Black Lives Matter movement and the Blue Lives Matter ideology, she believes that both are a "bigger scheme" to get people to buy merchandise, and not really about what the movement claims to represent.
Juror No. 19
In the final juror hearing of the day on March 9, Cahill approved Juror No. 19 to serve on the jury. The man, who describes himself as an "honest person, straightforward and easy to talk to," is an auditor.
He is described as a white man in his 30s, according to a pool courtroom reporter.
He said he doesn’t have any concerns about his or his family’s safety serving as a jury member in the case. He also mentioned he would keep an open mind until all evidence is present and considered in court, even though he has viewed the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd "at least three times," but not in full.
He also stated in court that he had a "friend of a friend" who is a K-9 officer for the Minneapolis Police Department. He says before the pandemic became reality, he typically would see this person twice a year, but reassured that the relationship has no impact on his judgments in this case.
Regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, he supports the general context of it, saying "Black lives do matter." He does have an unfavorable opinion of the Blue Lives Matter ideology.
Juror No. 20
Juror No. 20 became the fourth confirmed member of the jury on March 10.
He is described to be a white man in his 30s. The man works in sales management. He said he was aware of the trial happening but doesn’t know specific details of the case other than witnessing the video of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck. Despite forming his opinion from the video alone, he says he is willing to set aside differences in favor of facts and evidence presented.
The man mentioned he has a wedding scheduled in Florida, which to his and his fiance’s dismay could be moved due to the trial.
"We’ll do our best to get you to your wedding," Cahill said as he informed the man he was on the jury. "Go ahead and throw me under the bus with your fiancée."
In regards to the Black Lives Matter movement, he says he doesn’t understand why others "wouldn’t support the fact that Black lives do matter." In comparison, he stated that the "Blue Lives Matter" mantra is "a rip-off" of Black Lives Matter. However, he believes that entire police departments shouldn’t be to blame for things completely, but acknowledges that there are "bad cops" that exist within the criminal justice system. He thinks that police don’t get the respect they deserve.
"Are there good ones? Yes. So I don’t think it’s right to completely blame the entire organization," he told the court under questioning from prosecutor Steve Schleicher.
He also said he would be more inclined to believe an officer, all things being equal, over the word of another witness. But he maintained he would be able to set aside any ideas about the inherent honesty of an officer and evaluate each witness on their own.
When asked a question about being a season ticket holder for the Minnesota Vikings and the social justice stances the team has made, he responded that all players should feel free to express whatever protest or statement they want to make.
He also believes that white people and Black people are treated differently when it comes to justice.
Juror No. 20 was the first potential juror seen on Wednesday.
Juror No. 27
Juror No. 27 became the fifth member to serve on the jury. He is described to be a Black man in his 30s.
The man, who came to the United States 14 years ago and is multilingual, works in informational technology. He moved to the Midwest and completed his schooling in the region. He moved from Nebraska to Minnesota in 2012. The man says he holds a management position with his company and overlooks eight other employees. He says he deals with a lot of conflict and problem solving because of his job. His first language is French, followed by English.
The man said in court that he does not use social media, as he prefers a private life and protection of his data. He said he was shown the viral video of Floyd’s death from a friend’s phone, and said from that video alone, he formed a negative opinion of Chauvin. But, he added in court, "I didn’t know what happened before the video." He reassured the court that he could be impartial during the trial.
When asked if he had spoken to anyone about the incident, he said he did with his wife, saying to her "it could be anyone — you, me or anyone else."
He said the aftermath of the unrest and riots that ensued had people in his community "not OK with the looting." He added that people in his community were understanding of the protests, however. On the questionnaire, he said he was in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying that they matter more because they are a marginalized community. He says that police lives matter as well, as he believes that all lives have meaning and purpose. He added that police need to feel safe to do their jobs.
He said in court that he is against defunding police, as he thinks police are necessary for communities.
"While I necessarily might not agree with the police action in some situation, I believe that in order for police to make my community safe they have to have the money," he said.
He strongly agrees that police in his community makes him feel safe. His community wasn’t specified — jurors are being drawn from all over Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis and many of its suburbs.
"In my community, I think when there is suspicious activity the police will stop by, they will ask a question," he said. "I think that sense of community is all we want right? We want to live in a community where we feel safe regardless of race, color and gender."
Juror No. 36
The sole juror picked March 11 described himself as an outgoing, family-oriented soccer fan for whom the prospect of the trial was "kind of exciting." He is the sixth person picked.
The man, who said his favorite team is the Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid, said he’s also a fan of true crime podcasts and TV shows. He acknowledged under questioning from defense attorney Eric Nelson that he had a "very negative" impression of Chauvin. The man wrote on his questionnaire that he had seen the widely viewed bystander video of Floyd "desperately screaming that he couldn’t breathe" even as other officers stood by and bystanders shouted that Chauvin was killing George Floyd.
Yet asked whether he could set his opinions aside and stick to the evidence presented in court, he replied: "I’m willing to see all the evidence and everything, hear witnesses."
He mentioned he has a wife and two brothers. The man says he knew cousins who live here, which made him come to Minnesota. He has a background of managing high school students in his past, where he managed to resolve conflict often.
He has been identified as a Hispanic man in his 20s.
Juror No. 44
Juror No. 44 is the seventh confirmed member of the jury. She is a single white mother with two teenage boys, described to be in her 50s. She works in a nonprofit healthcare advocacy position.
She said her initial concern for safety was due to the possibility of her information being leaked in this case, but reaffirms she is willing to go through with being a possible juror. She says she wants to see all the facts presented in front of her in order to make a decision.
She said she could not watch the entire Floyd video, calling it "emotional." She wrote on the questionnaire that she felt like the officers involved had different levels of culpability. However, she is willing to keep an open mind to what the Minneapolis Police Department’s policies are.
She had differing opinions on the outcome of the protests: saying it brought attention to real issues, but the destruction of businesses was unnecessary.
"Laws were created many, many years ago that have not kept up with cultural and societal changes," was her response regarding discrimination portrayed in the media.
The woman told the defense she had a discussion with a coworker, who is Black, about the differences in how white people view law enforcement in comparison to Black people. She said she has gained perspective from that.
The woman tells state prosecutor Steve Schleicher she feels empathy for Floyd and the former officers.
"No one wants to take someone’s life — if that is what happened — so that’s where the empathy comes from. I’m sure his death is not something that anyone wanted. I’m sure the intention was there," she said.
She also stated that she has strong views about the use of drugs and further explained that she is "anti-drug." She has a negative opinion of any drug user because "they are making bad decisions."
Throughout her questioning, she spoke at length about needing to eliminate implicit bias.
The juror in question said she has prior experience with being on a jury.
Juror No. 52
The juror, described to be a Black man in his 30s, is a youth sports coach, and often finds himself keeping busy with sports, music and creative writing. He is the eighth juror picked to serve.
He said he isn’t concerned for his safety if he were picked to serve on the jury.
Regarding the case, he knows "many basics" of it, including two autopsies being done on Floyd. He has a neutral opinion for Chauvin and Floyd. He says he doesn’t think Chauvin had the intention to end Floyd’s life, but he was curious as to why the 3 other former officers did not intervene. The man says he has seen "about a minute" of the Floyd video.
"Why didn’t the other officers stop Chauvin?" he asked in court, adding that even if Chauvin didn’t mean to do what he did, someone still died.
The man says he witnessed a Minneapolis police officer "slam down someone for not cooperating quickly enough and use more force than was necessary." He adds he was walking by and acknowledges he doesn’t know the whole story from that isolated incident.
The man believes that discrimination is impossible to cover in full by the media, saying there is more discrimination than the media can keep up with.
He said he doesn’t know enough information on defunding the police to form an opinion on it. Regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, he said he has a favorable opinion of them.
"Black lives just want to be treated as equals and not killed or treated in an aggressive manner simply because they are Black," he answered in the questionnaire. He further states that he believes Black Lives Matter is a statement, doesn’t see them as a movement or organization.
He also believes Blue Lives Matter was created to refute Black Lives Matter. He said he doesn’t think there should be a competition.
Juror No. 52 says he does not judge those who struggle with a drug abuse issue.
"That’s just something they’re struggling with… but they’re still like anybody else," he said to the state prosecutor.
The jury process will continue until a total of 14 seats are filled. Two of the seats will serve as alternates. Opening statements are expected to begin on March 29.