A juror who served on the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin came forward this week to speak about the case so he can “help push for change.”
The juror, 31-year-old Brandon Mitchell, also disclosed that he has been pulled over by police officers “dozens of times” in the past for “no reason,” suggesting his identity as a black male made him suspect.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Mitchell “said he decided to come forward because ‘staying anonymous wouldn’t help push for change.'”
“Mr. Mitchell said he was pulled over for no reason by Minneapolis police dozens of times in his early 20s, usually driving his mother’s aging Chrysler Sebring,” the paper reported. “He said he has always told his players to follow the checklist his mother gave him during these encounters. Take your hat off; announce what you’re doing; be polite; do what you’re told.”
“But serving on the jury has made him see how wrong it is that a person should be so afraid that a police officer could do them harm that they needed to change their behavior,” the Journal noted.
“That’s also part of the reason why I’m speaking up now because that is a narrative that is horrible,” Mitchell said. “So somebody follows directions or not, they don’t deserve to die. That’s completely ridiculous.”
Mitchell told the Journal that the hardest testimony for him to hear during the trial was from George Floyd’s brother.
“I just related to it too much,” he said. “Being big, you know, former athlete and all these things — it just, it really just hit home … . It just felt like something that easily could have been me or anybody else that I know.”
The juror also said he felt compassion for Chauvin after the conviction. “He’s a human too,” Mitchell said.
“I almost broke down from that,” the juror revealed. “We decided his life. That’s tough. That’s tough to deal with. Even though it’s the right decision, it’s still tough.”
On April 20, after a little over ten hours of deliberation, the jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter related to Floyd’s death.
Chauvin and three other officers arrested and detained Floyd last May after he allegedly gave counterfeit money to a clerk at a convenience store. Following a struggle to get Floyd into the back of a police cruiser, viral video shows that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck and back for nearly nine minutes to detain Floyd while reportedly waiting for paramedics to arrive.
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson argued during the trial that Floyd’s drug use and bad heart were crucial factors in his death and that Chauvin used reasonable force through an authorized prone hold. The Hennepin County medical examiner revealed that Floyd’s autopsy showed the deceased had potentially lethal levels of drugs in his system, though the official cause of death was listed as asphyxiation related to Chauvin’s hold.
According to Mitchell, there was only one “holdout” jury who wasn’t ready to convict Chauvin on all three charges right away. He was persuaded after mere hours to convict on all three charges, though. The Journal outlined:
The jury got the case on a Monday evening after a full day of closing arguments. Once they had selected a foreman, they took an initial vote, with 11 of the 12 jurors ready to convict Mr. Chauvin of manslaughter. The lone holdout told the group that the juror needed more time, Mr. Mitchell said, so the jurors had a chance to explain why they felt the charge fit.
By the time it was the holdout’s chance to speak, the juror had already come around, he said.
Their first vote on third-degree murder was again 11 to 1, with the same holdout, Mr. Mitchell said. This time, they called up testimony and different pieces of evidence. Jurors gave their own interpretation of the legal issues required to approve the charge. They also created their own timeline, relating various events to when Mr. Floyd stopped breathing.
It took 3½ hours to reach a consensus on third-degree murder, he said. By the time they discussed the second-degree charge, he said it only took another 20 to 30 minutes.