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$27m settlement for family of George Floyd ‘has tainted the trial jury’, says Derek Chauvin defence

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Demonstrators hold signs outside outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, on Monday, March 8, 2021. Photo: Christian Monterrosa/Bloomberg

Demonstrators hold signs outside outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, on Monday, March 8, 2021. Photo: Christian Monterrosa/Bloomberg

Demonstrators hold signs outside outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, on Monday, March 8, 2021. Photo: Christian Monterrosa/Bloomberg

The lawyer for Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in relation to George Floyd’s death, asked the judge overseeing the case to delay the trial , saying he was concerned the $27m (€22.6m) civil settlement announced last week between the city of Minneapolis and the Floyd family has tainted the jury pool.

Eric Nelson, Mr Chauvin’s defence attorney, questioned the “suspicious timing” of the settlement and argued it was “highly prejudicial” against his client.

He called on Hennepin County District Court Judge, Peter A Cahill, to “at least” call back the seven jurors already seated in the case to question them to see if they had read the news of the settlement and if they could continue to be impartial in the case.

“The fact that this came in the exact middle of jury selection. It’s perplexing to me,” Mr Nelson said. “Whose idea was it to release this information?"

He criticised members of the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey, suggesting they had intended to sway public opinion in the case.

He was particularly critical of Mr Frey, who is also a civil rights attorney, saying “he should have known better.”

Mr Cahill didn’t immediately rule on the requests, but agreed the developments were “concerning”. “I wish city officials would stop talking about this case so much,” he said.

But the judge said he would take the motions into consideration while proceeding forward with jury selection.

The settlement, unanimously approved by the Minneapolis City Council, was announced during a break in jury selection Friday and went unmentioned for the rest of the day, even as city officials, including Mr Frey, joined the Floyd family and their attorneys at a nearby news conference to announce the payout.

Several observers have questioned the timing of the settlement and why the city didn’t wait to announce the payout until after the trial.

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In 2019, the city paid $20m to the family of Justine Damond, who was fatally shot in 2017 by a police officer as she approached his squad car after calling 911. That settlement was announced after a jury convicted the former officer.

A Minneapolis official told The Washington Post on Friday that the city was concerned about the timing.

The official, who was not authorised to speak publicly, said the city consulted with Hennepin County Chief District Court Judge Toddrick S Barnette, who told the city it could proceed.

Seven jurors have been seated in the case a faster pace than expected as the court seeks 12 jurors and up to four alternates.

Potential jurors have been asked to avoid the news since they were summoned in the case in late December.

Some observers have said it is possible that Mr Cahill could scrap jury selection and start over.

“This development is not good for anybody. Nobody wants to redo this,” said Joe Tamburino, a Minneapolis defence attorney. “This is not good for the defence. And this is not good for the prosecution.” (© The Washington Post)

© Washington Post


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