While a Minneapolis judge weighs a defense request to allow information about a 2019 incident involving George Floyd into trial, jury selection continued Tuesday in the trial against former police officer Derek Chauvin.
Judge Peter Cahill had previously suppressed the 2019 arrest. Defense attorney Eric Nelson is asking for it to be allowed, to show a similarity between that incident and May 25, 2020, when Floyd died.
On May 6, 2019, Floyd was found in an “almost incoherent state,” according to records, and paramedics were called to hospitalize him. Floyd had taken 7 or 8 pills, records show. He got into a squad car, was crying and showed “erratic behavior.”
Judge Cahill said Floyd’s medical response to the drugs seems “relevant” but that the emotional outbursts and reactions are not.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank said getting the 2019 arrest allowed during the trial was a move of “desperation” by the defense to disparage Floyd’s previous struggles with opiate addiction.
Judge Cahill said the May 2019 hypertensive incident goes to possible cause of death in May 2020. In both incidents, Floyd ingested lots of drugs. "That's the only relevance I see," Cahill said. #ChauvinTrial— Rochelle Olson (@rochelleolson) March 16, 2021
Chauvin is facing murder and manslaughter charges in the May 25, 2020 death of Floyd. Chauvin and several others who were employed by Minneapolis police at the time responded after Floyd was accused of stealing cigarettes from a convenience store.
Video taken from the scene shows Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
Floyd’s death sparked months-long protests against police brutality across the country and sparked conversations about racial equity and police reform.
A medical examiner’s report showed Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death. However, they are not listed as the cause of death.
The judge did not rule on whether the 2019 incident will be admissible, and said he would consider it.
Jury selection then continued in the Hennepin County courthouse. So far, nine jurors have been selected for the jury; five who are white, two are Black, one is Hispanic and one identifies as multiracial. A total of 14 people are needed for the jury, including two alternates.
Monday morning, Nelson asked the judge to delay the trial, saying last week’s news that the City of Minneapolis had reached a $27 million settlement with the Floyd family could taint the jury pool. He also brought up the possibility of seeking a change of venue.
The judge did not grant the request for a delay, but agreed the timing of the announcement was "unfortunate."
Potential jurors are being asked what they know about the May 25, 2020 incident, if they’ve seen video showing Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck, and if they are aware of last week’s settlement.
Outside the courtroom, officials say demonstrations about the case have been largely peaceful.
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