Mostly white jury selected in fed trial for George Floyd’s killers

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Mostly white jury selected in fed trial for George Floyd's killers

Most of the 18 jurors selected Thursday in the federal trial against three Minneapolis cops charged in George Floyd’s death appeared to be white, as the judge told the potential panelists the case had “absolutely nothing” to do with race.

Former Officers Tou Thao, who is of Asian descent; Thomas Lane, who is white; and J Kueng, who is black; are charged with depriving Floyd of his civil rights as white former officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of the 46-year-old black man for almost ten minutes, killing him.

Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane restrained his legs and Thao prevented concerned citizens from intervening as the handcuffed man suspected of using a fake $20 bill struggled to breathe and eventually went limp.

Footage of the fatal May 25, 2020 encounter spurred a national reckoning over racial injustice that summer. Chauvin was convicted of murder and sentenced to 23 in prison. He awaits separate sentencing in connection with a guilty plea to federal civil rights violation charges.

One of the 12 jurors selected to hear the case against the ex-cops appeared to be of Asian descent as well as one of the six alternates. The other 16 jurors appeared to be white. Federal justice officials did not release the demographics of the panel.

In this June 25, 2021, file image taken from pool video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin addresses the court as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over Chauvin's sentencing at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin, convicted of murder in George Floyd’s death, intends to appeal his conviction and sentence, saying the judge abused his discretion or erred during several key points in the case, according to documents filed Thursday., Sept. 23, 2021.
Former officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison following his murder trial.
Court TV via AP, Pool, File

The jury that convicted Chauvin was half white, and more reflective of Minneapolis’ population, which is 64 percent white, according to the US Census. The jury selected Thursday was comprised of people from across Minnesota, which is 78 percent white.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson insisted that race was a non-factor in the case to a potential black juror who questioned if he could be impartial “due to my color.”

“There is absolutely nothing about the subject of religion, race or ethnicity that’s involved in this case,” Magnuson said.

This still image taken from a May 25, 2020, video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows a Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer arresting George Floyd.
District Judge Paul Magnuson argues George Floyd’s civil rights trial is not subject to “religion, race or ethnicity.”
Facebook/Darnella Frazier/AFP via Getty Images

The concerned juror was eventually dismissed.

One legal expert agreed that Magnuson’s remark was only technically correct because the men on trial were accused of violating Floyd’s rights, not a bias crime.

“It is true that it has nothing to do with race in the framework of the law and facts,” Joe Daly, an emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline Law School, said. “But from what I can see it has almost everything to do with race. It has to do with what we know about how police enforce minor crimes against African Americans, how police have acted toward African Americans, minority people.”

A local defense attorney who was not involved in the case said the murder “was kind of the tipping point of unarmed black men being killed at the hands of police.

It had everything to do with race,” Mike Brandt insisted.

“If I was (prosecuting this case), I would want a jury made up of Black jurors,” Brandt continued. “If I’m representing these cops, I would prefer a white jury, which is what they have here.”

The defendants could face live in prison if convicted under federal law, but sentencing would likely be more lenient.

Opening arguments were scheduled to begin on Monday.

Police bodycam footage shows then officers J. Kueng and Thomas Lane apprehend George Floyd at the time of his arrest.
Police bodycam footage shows then officers J. Kueng and Thomas Lane apprehending George Floyd at the time of his arrest.
PoliceActivity

The former cops will also stand trial on state charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in June.

Lawyers for the Floyd family released a statement saying the defendants “directly contributed to (Floyd’s) death and failed to intervene to stop the senseless murder.”

With AP wires

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