Two weeks after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson filed a motion for a new trial.
Nelson’s filing cited many issues already raised and denied by the court, including the court’s denials to grant a change of venue, sequester the jurors, and order Floyd’s friend Morries Hall to testify.
The motion also listed juror misconduct and comes on the heels of speculation surrounding juror Brandon Mitchell, one of four Black jurors. Mitchell has granted numerous interviews in recent days and a photo of him from last August’s March on Washington has been the subject of controversy.
In the photo, which was posted by a relative, Mitchell is seen wearing a shirt with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the front, along with the words, “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” and “BLM.” Floyd family members reportedly spoke at the event.
Some in the media have questioned whether Mitchell lied in his juror questionnaire when he said he had not attended a protest against police brutality. The questionnaire asked two questions about prior involvement in protests. The first question asked specifically about Minneapolis, while the second was a general question.
When asked about the photo in question, Mitchell told media outlets that he did not see the rally as a protest against police violence, but one that commemorates the historic march and also pushed for voting rights. “I’d never been to D.C.,” Mitchell told the Associated Press. “The opportunity to go to D.C., the opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of Black people; I just thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of something.”
On April 23, Judge Peter Cahill filed an order sealing the jurors’ identities from the media for at least 180 days to protect the jury from “unwanted publicity or harassment” given the unparalleled amount of publicity and emotions surrounding the case. However, the jurors were free to identify themselves if they so chose. So far, Mitchell has been the only juror to do so, following alternate juror Lisa Christensen who granted interviews immediately following the trial.
John Stiles, deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, said in a statement to CNN, “The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the State will vigorously oppose them.”
On April 20, a 12-person jury found Chauvin guilty of second-and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25, 2020 killing. According to Minnesota law, Chauvin will be sentenced for the most serious charge against him, second-degree murder, which carries a maximum of 40 years in prison.
State prosecutors recently asked Judge Peter Cahill to consider aggravating factors—including the “particular cruelty” Chauvin displayed towards Floyd—to hand down a harsher sentence. Chauvin’s sentencing is scheduled for June 25.