Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of killing George Floyd, is again seeking a new trial.
Chauvin, 46, is serving a 22 1/2-year sentence after being convicted of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in April 2021. He entered a guilty plea in federal court for denying Floyd’s civil rights.
Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death was documented in well-publicized video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Chauvin and three other officers were arresting him.
The incident triggered nationwide anti-police demonstrations and riots.
As a result, jurors feared for their safety during Chauvin’s trial, according to an 82-page brief filed by Chauvin’s attorney, William Mohrman, on Monday, the New York Post reported.
It was impossible for Chauvin to get a fair trial, Mohrman argued, since jurors feared for the safety of themselves and their loved ones in the expected aftermath of an acquittal.
Minneapolis was “bracing for a riot” in the event of an acquittal, he said. The situation was aggravated by the media, which “glorified Floyd and demonized Chauvin.”
Mohrman’s brief highlighted the fears of at least two jurors: “Juror No. 87 stated that she was ‘nervous’ because this was a high profile case and Minneapolis ‘blew up after the incident.’”
Also, “Juror 28 stated ‘the decision the jury makes has maybe broader implications, reactions from the general public,’ and ‘knowing that the people, general public, is paying attention to the decision and more pressure, I guess, to get it right.’”
Should Chauvin be granted a new trial?
Yes: 95% (1446 Votes)
No: 5% (76 Votes)
With the jury not sequestered, the police killing of Daunte Wright in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, increased tensions, Mohrman said.
Two months after Chauvin’s conviction, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the case, turned down a request for a new trial based on excessive publicity tainting the jury pool and fostering prejudice against Chauvin, The Associated Press reported.
At the time, defense attorney Eric Nelson accused one juror, Brandon Mitchell, of impropriety for failing to mention his participation in a summer 2020 march honoring Martin Luther King Jr. while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.
Nelson also said an alternate juror publicly said she felt pressured toward a guilty verdict.