The first jurors for the US agents’ criminal trial who killed black arrestee George Floyd were selected on Tuesday.
Floyd’s violent death in late May last year sparked a storm of outrage and worldwide protests against racism and excessive police brutality.
Former police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for manslaughter. The first jurors should have been selected on Monday, but that was postponed because the prosecutor wanted to reinstate several charges that had previously been dropped.
The first three jurors were selected after a detailed cross-examination of hours by the prosecution and Chauvin’s attorneys. Ultimately, twelve jurors must determine whether Chauvin is guilty of the charges. The former policeman faces up to 40 years in prison. The selection of the jury can take another three weeks. Opening speeches are expected to be held on March 29.
One of the potential jurors, a Spanish-speaking woman who spoke poor English, was kept out of the jury by Chauvin’s lawyers. A young white chemist, a young woman of colour, and a white man in his thirties who works as an accountant were found eligible for jury duty by both parties.
Floyd’s niece, who was present in court, said she is “optimistic” about the trial. “It’s bittersweet for us,” said Shareeduh Tate, who represented the family. “But we are delighted that the legal process is starting.”