Defence strikes first juror from pool after she said the actions of the former police officer on trial were ‘not fair’.
The first jurors have been selected in the high-profile trial of the white police officer accused of killing George Floyd, a Black man whose death laid bare racial wounds in the United States and sparked “Black Lives Matter” protests across the globe.
Two white men and a woman with a police officer uncle were selected on Tuesday for the 12-member panel that will decide the fate of former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin.
He is facing charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death in May last year that was captured by bystanders on phone video.
Jury selection had been scheduled to begin on Monday but was delayed for a day as prosecutors sought to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against 44-year-old Chauvin.
A Minnesota court of appeals has not yet issued its ruling but Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill decided to go ahead with jury selection.
Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
The jury selection process could take up to three weeks with opening arguments expected to begin on March 29.
Chauvin was dismissed from the police force after he was captured on video with his knee on the neck of a pleading, gasping Floyd for nearly nine minutes.
Chauvin, who has been free on bail, appeared in court on Tuesday surrounded by plexiglass as a COVID-19 precaution.
He frequently jotted down notes on a yellow legal pad and conferred with his lawyers as prospective jurors were being questioned.
Lawyers for both sides face the difficult task of finding jurors who have not already made up their minds about the widely publicised case.
The identities of the jurors will not be revealed until after the trial.
Three other police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest – Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – face lesser charges and will be tried separately.
Floyd’s arrest was prompted by accusations that he had tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill in a nearby store.