Defense lawyers for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin have requested a delay and a change of venue after news broke that the city paid George Floyd’s family a record breaking $27 million settlement.
The legal team put in the request on Monday out of concern that there is no way Chauvin will face a fair trial in the city.
The trial was in the middle of jury selection when news of the settlement hit the media. Seven jurors had already been chosen.
“I am gravely concerned with the news that broke on Friday related to the civil settlement,” Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, told Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill. “The fact that this came in the exact middle of jury selection is perplexing to me, your honor.”
The Hill reports that prosecutor Steve Schleicher agreed the settlement being announced last week while jury selection was happening wasn’t ideal, but countered that proceedings should continue.
“All I can say to the court is there are some things the state of Minnesota and this prosecution team can control, and there are some things it cannot control,” Schleicher said. “We cannot control the civil aspect of the case, we cannot and do not control the Minneapolis City Council, and we certainly cannot and do not control the news cycle.”
Judge Cahill agreed that the defense’s point was “legitimate,” but said that he didn’t see any “evil intent” in the city council voting for the settlement Friday.
The judge ultimately decided that jury selection will continue for now, but he will be considering granting a continuance and trial relocation.
Chauvin is facing counts of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
According to the toxicology report, Floyd had three times the level of fentanyl needed to kill a human being and methamphetamine in his system at the time officers apprehended him. He was also stating that he couldn’t breathe before he was even on the ground.