The city of Minneapolis last week agreed to pay $ 27 million in a civil lawsuit filed by the family of George Floyd for his death.
An American judge assesses whether a recent settlement concluded between the City of Minneapolis and the family of George Floyd would affect the impartiality of the jury in the trial of the former police officer accused of Floyd’s death.
Derek Chauvin’s trial judge, facing murder and manslaughter charges, said on Monday that the timing for the city’s March 12 announcement was “unfortunate.”
“I wish city officials would stop talking so much about this case,” Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill said.
Cahill said he plans to recall the seven jurors already selected to see if they have heard any news of the settlement and if it will affect their impartiality.
“At the same time, I do not find any evil intention that they are trying to falsify the criminal case,” he said.
Authorities have set aside three weeks for jury selection, as potential jurors are questioned about their prior knowledge of the case as prosecutors and Chauvin’s defense team seek to ensure impartiality.
Floyd died on May 25 after Chauvin pressed his knee to his neck for more than eight minutes during a filmed arrest.
His death sparked protests across the United States and around the world, as protesters called for an end to racial injustice and police violence against black people.
Protesters gathered last week outside the government building where Chauvin’s trial will take place in Minneapolis to demand justice for Floyd.
“We will continue to present ourselves for the community,” Anika Bowie, vice president of the Minneapolis NAACP told Al Jazeera of protest. “We understand that justice will prevail in us. We will come forward, and we will be very persistent, questioning the system. “
Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder, third degree murder and manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death.
On Monday, counsel for former officer Eric Nelson said the financial settlement announced last week “has incredible potential to taint the jury pool.”
Nelson asked for an extension and raised the possibility of renewing his previously unsuccessful request to move Chauvin’s trial to another city.
“I am seriously concerned about the news that broke on Friday,” he said.
Minneapolis announced on Friday that it had agreed to pay $ 27 million to settle a civil action brought by Floyd’s family for his death.
Floyd family attorney Ben Crump called him the biggest pre-trial settlement for a civil rights claim.
Legal experts said publicity about the settlement could be bad for the defense, leading some would-be jurors to believe guilt has been decided. But they doubted it would really affect the criminal trial.
Attorney Steve Schleicher said the state had no control over Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey, who announced the settlement.
With no delay or change of venue, Nelson, the defense attorney, urged the judge to consider giving both sides additional strikes to expel potential jurors who may be biased.
But Schleicher said the selected jurors had vowed to be able to decide the case based solely on the evidence presented at trial and he urged the court to “take a step back” and determine if there is a real problem before. to decide on solutions.
Cahill said he would take the continuation request under advisement, but did not think it would be appropriate to grant additional strikes to either party.
The first opening statements would begin at the trial on March 29.