MINNEAPOLIS (NewsNation Now) — A judge in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd dismissed two jurors Wednesday following the news of a $27 million settlement for the Floyd family.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill recalled seven of the nine jurors selected in Derek Chauvin’s trial by video Wednesday. The seven had all been seated before the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay $27 million to settle a civil lawsuit from Floyd’s family over his death last Friday.
Cahill questioned the jurors to determine what they knew about the settlement and whether it affected their ability to serve. The move was requested by Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, who had called the timing of last week’s announcement by city leaders in the middle of jury selection “profoundly disturbing” and “not fair.”
Both jurors removed from the panel said they were aware of the city’s settlement, and the judge’s decision to remove them was out of caution that the information would skew judgement.
Cahill was being careful to ask jurors if they had heard the news of the settlement without giving details, saying only that there had been “extensive media coverage about developments in a civil suit between the city of Minneapolis and the family of George Floyd” and asking if they had been exposed to it.
The first dismissed juror said he had heard about the settlement. “I think it will be hard to be impartial,” he said.
“That sticker price obviously shocked me,” the second juror dismissed said. He said he thought he could set the news aside, but wasn’t sure, and after a long pause, Cahill dismissed him.
The move brings the number of jurors from nine on Tuesday, two of which were seated after the settlement announcement, down to seven. They include four men and three women. Four are white, one is multiracial and two are Black, and their ages range from 20s to 50s.
Fourteen people, including two alternates, are needed to serve on the jury panel.
Nelson has also requested a delay in the trial, which Cahill is considering. Cahill has set opening statements for March 29 at the earliest.
Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of Floyd, a Black man who was declared dead after Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck for about nine minutes. Floyd’s death, captured on a widely seen bystander video, set off weeks of sometimes-violent protests across the country and led to a national reckoning on racial justice.
Chauvin, 44, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charge.
On Tuesday, the two sides skirmished over whether evidence of Floyd’s 2019 arrest in Minneapolis should be allowed at trial.
The judge previously rejected Chauvin’s attempt to tell the jury about the arrest — a year before his fatal encounter with Chauvin — but heard fresh arguments Tuesday from both sides. He said he would rule on the request Thursday.
Three other former officers face an August trial in Floyd’s death on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Reporting by AP’s Steve Karnowski and Amy Forliti and Reuters’ Jonathan Allen.