The process is underway in Minneapolis to seat the jurors who will decide the fate of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.
The viral video in that death sparked unrest throughout the United States and led to calls to defund or abolish police departments. Ultimately, though, it is the jury that will determine whether Chauvin’s actions constituted criminal wrongdoing under Minnesota statutes.
Twelve jurors will be seated to hear the case. Some commentators have called for Black jurors to be included on the jury. Prospective jurors are undergoing questioning to determine whether they hold such fixed opinions on the case that they are unable to set them aside to give Chauvin the presumption of innocence accorded to all defendants in American courts of law.
Here’s a round up of the jurors chosen so far, including what’s known about their backgrounds and their demographics, including gender and race. The jurors’ names are sealed and will not be released for the jurors’ own protection.
As of March 12, the jurors chosen are a Black man in his 30s, a Hispanic man in his 20s, a white woman in her 50s, three white men (two in their 30s and one in his 20s), and one multiracial woman in her 20s, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Chauvin is white and Floyd was Black.
According to CNN, the jurors are from Hennepin County, which is 74% white and 14% Black. The prosecution has raised some challenges alleging the defense attorneys were striking jurors solely based on race, but the judge did not concur. In addition to 12 jurors, two alternates will be selected.
Chauvin Juror 1: The Chemist
The first juror seated is a white male chemist.
“I work in science, I consider myself a pretty logical person. I work as a chemist, and I’m passionate about that. I suppose I stay active and like to spend time outside,” he said, according to live video of the jury selection.
The juror said he had “avoided as much news about this as I could.” He said he worked for years as a summer camp counselor, where he was trained to listen to “both sides.” He said, “I rely on facts, logic and what’s in front of me.” He said he has not seen the video in the case. He said “all of my experiences with them have been positive,” referring to Minneapolis police. “I’m an advocate for community-oriented policing.”
He said, “I don’t love the Black Lives Matter organization. … I support the message that every life should matter equally.”
Chauvin Juror 2: The Niece of a Police Officer
This juror is a “female person of color,” according to NBC News, which added that she is “eager to serve” as a juror and is related to a police officer.
“That video just makes you sad,” she said. “Nobody wants to see somebody die, whether it was his fault or not.” But she said she could set aside her initial negative opinion of Chauvin to judge the case fairly. According to USA Today, she said that Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter have “turned into a propaganda scheme by companies” to sell products.
KTSP-TV reported that this juror is mixed race and her uncle is a police officer in Brainerd, Minnesota.
Chauvin Juror 3: The Auditor
According to NBC News, this juror is “a white man who works as an auditor.” He’s in his 30s. According to USA Today, this man “is friends with a police officer” and wanted to serve as a juror in a prior cause because “I think it’s an important part of our society.”
KTSP reported that the juror described himself as an “honest person, straightforward and easy to talk to.” He has a favorable opinion of Black Lives Matter, but not Blue Lives Matter.
Chauvin Juror 4: The Sales Data Worker
This juror was described by KARE 11 as “a younger man who said he has a very favorable view of Black Lives Matter, but also said he would be more likely to believe the word of a law enforcement officer over a casual bystander.” According to the (Minnesota) Star-Tribune, he said that a police officer “is more trained to assess the situation … and share it in a court format” where a civilian without the training of a police officer might be “emotion-based.”
According to KARE11 reporter Lou Raguse, this juror said, referring to Black Lives Matter, “I don’t know why anyone would be against that movement,” but has a negative view of “Blue Lives Matter,” saying, “in terms of using that exact phrasing, kind of a rip-off marketing … shortsighted …”
According to the Star-Tribune, this man is “white and works in sales data,” had a negative reaction to the video, but said he felt Floyd was “under the influence and somewhat unruly.”
Chauvin Juror 5: The IT Worker
According to KARE 11, juror No. 5 was described by the pool court reporter “as a Black man in his 30s or 40s and works in IT.” He said in his questionnaire “that he supports Black Lives Matter, believes Black lives are marginalized, and would like to serve as a juror in the case.” He said he “strongly opposes” defunding the police. He has lived in the United States for 14 years, the station reported.
The Star-Tribune said the man immigrated to the U.S. for school and promised of his role as a juror, “I will follow the law.”
Chauvin Juror 6: The ‘Route Driver’
This juror told the court that he has a “very negative” opinion of Chauvin, according to WXII12. The man stated that he could set that opinion aside and judge the case fairly.
The juror described himself as “an outgoing, family-oriented soccer fan” who watches true crime shows and felt the trial was “kind of exciting,” the television station reported, adding that the man wrote on a questionnaire that he saw the video and described it as Floyd “desperately screaming that he couldn’t breathe.”
According to KARE11, the juror was described by a pool reporter as “possibly Hispanic” and he is a “route driver” who has worked as a manager.
Chauvin Juror 7: The High-Level Executive in Health Care
“Potential juror #44 was just seated. She’s a white mom in her 40s or 50s, who advocates for healthcare in the non-profit sector, and likes the outdoors. She is the 7th juror selected,” WCCO-TV reporter Jennifer Mayerle wrote on Twitter.
The Star-Tribune wrote of this juror that she is “a high-level executive in the nonprofit sector focused on healthcare. She took the unusual move of summoning her own attorney to the courthouse.” She also said, the newspaper reported, “a man died, and I am not sure that’s not procedure. … Not all police are bad, but the bad-behavior police need to go.” She added, “Everyone’s lives are changed by this incident … and it’s not easy for anyone.”
The jury selection, technically called voir dire, continues, and this article will be updated with all jurors as they are chosen.