November 27, 2021

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Jurors Who Convicted Derek Chauvin Are Identified for First Time – The New York Times

5 min read

MINNEAPOLIS — More than six months after a jury found the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, the identities of the 12 jurors whose verdict sent Mr. Chauvin to prison were released on Monday for the first time.

The jurors were kept out of view of the courtroom cameras during the trial and shuttled back to their homes in secrecy each night, but several have since described the deliberations that took place in a hotel conference room and the toll of the three-week trial.

Still, half of the jury remained anonymous until Monday, after the judge who oversaw the trial ordered that all of their names should be released in response to a request by a coalition of news outlets including The New York Times. The jurors whose names were publicized for the first time either declined to comment on Monday or could not be reached.

“Most of them really just want to stay low-key and stay behind the scenes,” Brandon Mitchell, a juror who spoke publicly about a week after the verdict on April 20, said on Monday. He said that all of the jurors have been keeping in touch on an email chain since the trial. “They’re scared of the unknown and of becoming a public figure instead of spending their lives in peace.”

At the home of one juror, less than two miles from where Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck, a sign was taped to the door that said “Please, no press no soliciting.” A Black Lives Matter poster was displayed prominently in a window of the home.

In interviews since the trial, Mr. Mitchell and several other jurors have recounted how they gathered in a hotel conference room and pored over the case for two days of deliberations, making lists and timelines on a whiteboard and reviewing videos and testimony. Accounts have differed on how many people leaned toward voting guilty right away; Mr. Mitchell has said that 11 jurors were initially ready to convict on a murder charge and one was unsure, while another juror said last week that as many as five had initially been unsure.

In an interview with several jurors that aired on CNN last week, one said she had been swayed by the fact that Mr. Chauvin had not provided aid to Mr. Floyd as he pinned him to the ground with his knee for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

“This is not what he did, but more or less what he didn’t do,” the juror, Jodi Doud, said on CNN. “He did not provide lifesaving measures for George Floyd when he knew that the guy was in pain or needed medical attention.”

Mr. Chauvin and several other officers who have been charged in Mr. Floyd’s death responded on May 25, 2020, to a 911 call from a convenience store clerk who said Mr. Floyd had used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes. Officers took Mr. Floyd to the ground and handcuffed him, and Mr. Chauvin knelt on his neck as a group of bystanders formed on the sidewalk. Several of the bystanders yelled for officers to get off Mr. Floyd, and one, Darnella Frazier, took a cellphone video of the scene that sparked outrage and led to protests across the world.

After the jury’s verdict, Judge Peter A. Cahill sentenced Mr. Chauvin to 22 and a half years in prison.

The court on Monday also released responses to questionnaires that were sent to hundreds of prospective jurors before lawyers for both sides whittled down the pool to 12 jurors, as well as two alternate jurors who sat through the trial but did not deliberate or vote on the verdict.

The questionnaires reveal a diverse range of opinions from the jurors, who were from throughout Hennepin County and ranged in age from their 20s to their 60s. Four of the jurors were Black, six were white and two were multiracial; seven of the 12 were women.

In the questionnaires, they were asked about their views on everything from the Black Lives Matter movement to podcasts to how they viewed their own interactions with the police. Some checked a box indicating that they had been “very satisfied” when they had called the police for help, while another said she was “very unsatisfied” after asking the police for help when her purse was stolen from a bar.

Some said they regularly read or watched the news while others said they had little interest. “I don’t really follow the news or politics,” wrote one juror, Journee Howard, who said she listened to Joe Rogan’s podcast and came across news snippets on Facebook but otherwise did not seek them out.

Still, all of the jurors were able to describe many facts of Mr. Floyd’s death and the demonstrations that rocked the city in the days after, a sign of just how much the killing affected the region. All but one of the jurors said they had seen at least part of the video that showed Mr. Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

Asked whether they believed that the police treated white and Black people equally, almost all disagreed, while all jurors said they agreed with the statement that “Police in my community make me feel safe.” They diverged more on how they viewed the phrases “Black lives matter” and “blue lives matter” and on whether the demonstrations that followed Mr. Floyd’s death — which were particularly destructive in Minneapolis — had helped or hurt the city.

Asked if they wanted to serve on the jury, five indicated that they wanted to be selected as jurors and six checked a box that said “Not sure.” One woman checked both “Yes” and “Not sure.”

In the CNN interview, several jurors pushed back on critics who have suggested that they must have felt pressure to convict because of the protests in Minneapolis after Mr. Floyd’s death and the protests that followed the fatal police shooting of another Black man in a Minneapolis suburb during the trial.

“This was no easy task for us,” one of the jurors, Sherri Hardeman, said in the CNN interview. “I felt like it was my civic duty to step forward and represent, and a lot of people have different opinions about the verdict and about the whole process, but it wasn’t an easy task; we took this very seriously.”

Jay Senter and Sheila Eldred contributed reporting from Minneapolis. Kitty Bennett, Susan C. Beachy and Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

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