AS THE murder trial of officer Derek Chauvin continued for the killing of George Floyd, anger erupted outside the Court House where masses of police were drafted into the area in military vehicles including a Humvee.
There had been protests in the Minneapolis area overnight on Sunday and throughout yesterday over the police shooting of yet another young black man during a traffic stop on Sunday.
Police in Brooklyn Center – about 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis – say that a man was pulled over for a traffic violation on Sunday afternoon. According to law enforcement the suspect was found to have an outstanding arrest warrant against him.
Officers claim the man, who has been identified by his family as Daunte Wright, re-entered his vehicle as officers tried to arrest him.
An officer then shot the man, who drove on for several blocks before he crashed into another vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A female passenger in the vehicle suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Demonstrators shouted: ‘I can’t breathe!’, and battled with the police, who attacked them with rubber bullets and tear gas.
Inside the Court House on Day 11 of the trial Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s defence attorney, asked that the jurors be sequestered (isolated) for the rest of the trial due to the unrest that had erupted in the nearby Brooklyn Center suburb.
Jurors are currently required to be partially sequestered, meaning they will only be kept isolated after arguments are finished and they must decide on their verdict. Each day they are escorted into the courthouse as a group.
‘I would note for the court we have at least one juror that is a resident of that city, and other jurors that have a connection to Brooklyn Center,’ Nelson said.
He told the judge that he wanted the jurors questioned on what they know about Sunday’s shooting and protests.
‘Given that this (the Floyd killing) is a high profile case, this is a case that evokes a lot of emotion for a lot of people, ultimately your honour, the question becomes will the jury be confident to make a decision regardless of the potential outcome of their decision?’
He added that the protest, although part of a different case, ‘sets the stage for a juror to say: “I’m not voting not guilty because I’m concerned about the outcome”.’
But lawyers for the state said they oppose completely isolating the jury, saying: ‘World events happen. News events happen in the state.’
Judge Cahill then denied the motion to sequester and question the jury, adding ‘this is a totally different case.’
He allowed Chauvin’s defence to call Morries Hall – who was in the car with Floyd before his arrest – to testify in the trial.
Prosecutors responded by casting doubt on Hall’s credibility.
‘He gave false information at the scene at least twice,’ prosecutor Matthew Frank said, noting he’d fled from Minnesota and ‘had to be apprehended in Texas. ‘He gave very sketchy details about his own involvement. He denied having any fake money.’
The death of Floyd spurred global protests against racial injustice in 2020.