Minneapolis, MN – Fifteen jurors have been selected for the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin and the opening arguments are scheduled to begin on Monday.
The 11-day jury selection process ended on Tuesday afternoon when the last juror was empaneled, the Associated Press reported.
Twelve of those selected will act as jurors, while two more will be seated as alternates.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill said he planned to dismiss the 15th juror on Monday morning when the trial starts if none of the others have had to be excused, the Associated Press reported.
More than 70 potential jurors out of the 326 originally called were questioned during the voir dire process in order to seat the jury, The Washington Post reported.
Nine of the jurors are white, four are black, and two are multiracial.
Six of the jurors are men and nine of the jurors are women, and they vary in age from their 20s to 60s, according to the Associated Press.
The jury is more diverse than was expected given that Hennepin County is 80 percent white, The Washington Post reported.
Only one of the prospective jurors questioned said he hadn’t seen the viral cell phone video of Floyd’s arrest.
Cahill had originally wanted to have 16 jurors, allowing for four alternates, but social-distancing requirements limited the allotted space to just 14 people.
The judge said he would keep the entire remaining jury pool in place until after the start of the trial just in case something happened and they needed to empanel more alternates, The Washington Post reported.
“The whole point of this 15th juror was to make sure that we have 14 people show up on Monday,” Cahill said. “Nevertheless, I’m still not going to release the jury pool until the jury is sworn, on the off chance that we still have to pick some alternates.”
It was unclear which jurors the judge intended to select as alternates because although they are usually the last two seated, that isn’t required and won’t necessarily be the case for Chauvin’s trail, the Associated Press reported.
Throughout jury selection the defense tried to dismiss for cause any of the candidates who had participated in the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, also struck numerous prospective jurors who said they had strong feelings about the defendant before they were called to the jury, the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, struck anyone who expressed distaste or doubt about the Black Lives Matter movement or who said they were more likely to believe what a police officer said.
Despite the narrative that has plagued the mainstream media since Floyd’s death, legal experts have said that a conviction of Chauvin will not be a slam-dunk for the Attorney General’s Office leading the prosecution, the Associated Press reported.
Nelson had sought a change of venue multiple times, most recently after the public announcement of a $27 million settlement between the city of Minneapolis and the Floyd family in the middle of jury selection, but Cahill denied it.
The city council unanimously approved the highest pre-trial settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. history on March 12, the last day of the first week of jury selection.
Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, The Washington Post reported.
Former Minneapolis Police Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane, and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder.
Their trials will be held together in August, The Washington Post reported.