On Monday, the defense attorney representing the former Minnesota cop accused of killing George Floyd asked the court to delay the criminal trial and move the venue in light of a $27 million settlement made with Floyd’s family.
Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, told Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill that he is “gravely concerned” after a settlement was reached on Friday between the city of Minneapolis and Floyd’s relatives. Nelson argued that the record-breaking payout could unjustly influence the seven selected jurors and prospective jurors, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
Nelson asked for the trial to be delayed and moved out of Minneapolis. The news outlet reported that he also requested additional peremptory strikes (allowances to reject prospective jurors without providing a reason), for jurors to be sequestered during the high-profile trial, and for the seven selected jurors to be questioned about the civil lawsuit to see if it affects their objectivity.
While the judge denied Nelson’s bid for extra peremptory strikes, he agreed that the already-selected jurors should be asked about the settlement. The judge also said he would consider a change in venue, according to the Pioneer Press.
Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder, second-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death. Two jurors were selected on Monday, bringing the count to nine. Fourteen jurors, including two alternates, will be selected for the trial.
On May 25, Minneapolis police officers were filmed arresting Floyd, 46, on suspicion that he used a counterfeit bill at the Cup Foods supermarket. After police pulled Floyd out of his car and handcuffed him, Chauvin was filmed forcing his knee into Floyd’s neck for eight minutes. Floyd was heard gasping for air and saying he could not breathe before he lost consciousness and died.
The three other ex-officers involved in Floyd’s arrest, Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34 are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. All four officers were fired for the role in Floyd’s arrest.
While Hennepin County’s autopsy report stated that there was no evidence “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” an independent autopsy asserted that sustained forceful pressure on Floyd’s neck and back led to his death. Both reports mentioned drugs in Floyd’s system but concluded his death was a homicide.
Chauvin will be tried separately from the other three former officers. Their trial is scheduled to begin this summer.
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[Featured image: Derek Chauvin/Hennepin County jail; George Floyd; Facebook]