Jury seated in federal civil rights trial of 3 ex-Minneapolis officers in George Floyd's death
ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - A complete jury was seated Thursday after one day of jury selection in the federal trial of the three former Minneapolis Police Department officers facing charges for violating George Floyd’s civil rights during the deadly arrest on May 25, 2020.
Former MPD officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao face charges of depriving George Floyd of his civil rights outside of Cup Foods after failing to intervene as fellow officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, and not providing medical assistance as Floyd took his last breaths.
The fourth ex-MPD officer, Derek Chauvin, has already pleaded guilty in the case.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson is hoping to start the trial on Monday, Jan. 24. He has estimated the trial to last four weeks.
Jury seated after one day of jury selection
A full jury was seated after Judge Magnuson, prosecutors and defense attorneys narrowed down a pool of prospective jurors in the federal civil rights trial of former Minneapolis police officers.
The judge started Thursday by questioning prospective jurors, who were either added to the jury pool or dismissed by the end of the day.
While seated in the courtroom, potential jurors from across the state of Minnesota filled out questionnaires with the following information:
- Juror number
- County they live in and for how long
- Occupations (if retired, last occupation)
- Spouse/partner information (including occupations)
- Number of children and their ages (including occupations, if adults)
- Level of education
- Previous military service (which branch, status)
- How they spend their free time
- If there are any changes to their questionnaire answers that they filled out when they were initially selected for jury duty
After the prospective jurors were sworn in, the judge asked them general questions to indicate if a potential juror should be dismissed from the jury pool. Reasons that may prompt dismissal from the jury include connection to the case’s defendants, attorneys or witnesses; ties to law enforcement; and the inability to be fair and impartial.
The judge dismissed potential jurors until 40 remained in the pool. Then, attorneys from the defense and the state decided which jurors to use their peremptory strikes on to determine a final jury of 12, plus six alternates.
Twelve jurors were seated from a pool of the 28 prospective jurors. The six alternates in the trial jury were seated from a pool of 12 prospective jurors.
The jury selection process was completed in one day. For comparison in speed, jury selection for the Hennepin County trial of Derek Chauvin took two weeks.
Opening statements could begin as soon as Monday, Jan. 24. Court resumes Monday at 10 a.m. CT.
Who are the jurors?
The court has seated a total of 18 jurors, which includes 12 who will deliberate and six alternates.
- 8 men and 10 women (check back later for information on age and race)
Where the jurors are from
- 4 from Hennepin County
- 4 from Ramsey County
- 2 from Olmsted County
- 2 from Washington County
- 2 from Anoka County
- 1 each from Jackson, Scott, Nicollet, Blue Earth counties
About the jurors
- Juror #3: Man who has lived in Hennepin County for six months. Works at an architecture firm with a master's degree in architecture. Married, but no children.
- Juror #6: Man from Hennepin County. Works retail at a department store. Spouse works at a grocery store. Has five children.
- Juror #11: Man who has lived in Olmsted County for 55 years. Computer programmer with a bachelor's degree. Spouse does medical research. Has three children in their 20s.
- Juror #14: Woman who has lived in Ramsey County for 18 years. Public affairs director for local government with bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Minnesota. Spouse is retired. Has two stepchildren and an 11-year-old daughter.
- Juror #16: Woman from Blue Earth County. Retired, but was an accountant for a feed manufacturing company and has a bachelor's degree in business administration. Husband is also retired. Has two sons, ages 43 and 30.
- Juror #30: Woman from Washington County. Has a bachelor's degree. Does logistics for a local cooperative with husband. Has three children, ages 2-10.
- Juror #41: Man from Ramsey County. State government project manager. Wife is a university researcher. No kids.
- Juror #43: Woman from Anoka County. Customer relations manager. Married with three adult kids. Husband is a truck driver.
- Juror #46: Woman from Jackson County. Homeschool teacher for her five children (ages 12-20). Husband is a computer network administrator.
- Juror #47: Man from Hennepin County. Maintenance manager. Army veteran. Girlfriend works in schools. Has two adult kids.
- Juror #52: Woman from Washington County. School social worker with a master's degree in social work. Engaged to a seminary student.
- Juror #60: Woman from Scott County. Works in product development. Has a master's degree. Retired husband with two kids, ages 18 and 21.
- Juror #65: Man from Ramsey County. Account executive for a data company. Wife is a device technician. Has four children, ages 5-11.
- Juror #69: Woman from Olmsted County. Food service worker at hospital with boyfriend. No kids.
- Juror #70: Woman from Nicollet County. Retired, but was a hospital chef in Indiana. Late spouse. Two adult children.
- Juror #73: Man from Ramsey County. Works in home mortgage. Wife is a stay-at-home mother of four young kids.
- Juror #80: Man from Hennepin County. Veteran of Marine Corp. He and his wife are retired. Worked as a global business manager with a master's degree in business administration. Has four kids and five grandkids.
- Juror #83: Woman from Anoka County. Publishing graphics specialist. Has a wife of eight years. No kids. Likes to play bingo and hang out at VFWs.
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Who is expected in the courtroom?
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson
Former MPD officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Defense attorneys Robert Paule, Earl Gray and Thomas Plunkett
Attorneys from the U.S. Attorney's Office
Four pool media reporters
Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were in federal court Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing. (Cedric Hohnstadt Illustration, L.L.C.)
How does jury selection work?
Judge Magnuson followed his plan of seating the jury within one or two days to allow the trial to begin on Monday, Jan. 24.
In the federal court, the presiding judge leads the process of selecting the jury. Several potential jurors from across the state have already been removed for cause, based on their responses in the extensive jury questionnaires, Magnuson explained in the pre-trial hearing on Jan. 11.
He further explained that 36 potential jurors will be brought into the courtroom as a group for questioning and selection – 18 will sit in the chairs in the jury box, the other 18 will sit in the gallery. If the prosecution and the defense has a question for a juror, it will be handed to the judge to ask. Groups of 36 will continue to come through for questioning one-by-one, until a full jury is seated.
The defense gets 10 peremptory strikes while the state gets six. Attorneys do not have to provide a reason for why they object the juror when using a peremptory challenge. Potential jurors can also be struck from the jury for cause, meaning there is a reason to believe the juror is unfit for a fair trial. There is no limit on the number of jurors who can be removed for cause.
Where is the federal trial taking place?
The trial is being held at the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown St. Paul.
Earlier this month, crews put up security fencing around the courthouse perimeter. Both Robert Street and Jackson Street between Kellogg Boulevard and 4th Street East until the trial is over, St. Paul Police said.
Can I watch a livestream this trial?
No. Federal courts do not allow cameras inside the courtroom. Unlike the livestreamed state trials of former police officers Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter, the trial will not be livestreamed.
The courthouse is closed to the public during the trial, but reporters will take notes and provide updates to the public by watching and observing a live video feed of the trial streamed into an overflow room in the building. A sketch artist will also provide visuals of the trial.
Follow FOX 9 Reporter Rob Olson on Twitter for live updates throughout the trial.
What are the differences between the state and federal charges?
The federal trial is taking place before the state trial, and focuses on if the officers violated George Floyd's civil rights under government authority, not so much about if they helped kill him.
Last May, a federal grand jury determined, in private, whether charges should be brought upon the officers. The grand jury alleged that Kueng and Thao were aware Chauvin was using unreasonable force, but "willfully failed to intervene" to stop it. The jury also indicted all three officers for failing to provide medical care to Floyd, resulting in his death.
Since the three former officers pleaded not guilty to the charges, a trial jury will decide whether they willfully violated Floyd’s civil rights during the May 2020 deadly arrest.
Additionally, the three former Minneapolis police officers are facing criminal charges in the state of Minnesota for aiding and abetting the murder and manslaughter of George Floyd. That trial for that case is set to begin on June 13.
Why isn’t Derek Chauvin in this trial?
Derek Chauvin was charged alongside the former officers for violating George Floyd’s civil rights and would have been in the same trial after a federal judge’s ruling in November 2021. But last month, Chauvin pled guilty in this case, so he will no longer stand trial with the other officers.
Chauvin is currently serving his 22.5-year sentence for his state convictions, awaiting his sentencing in the federal case. Under the plea deal, Chauvin could be sentenced to 300 months, or 25 years, in prison to be served concurrently with his state sentence.
Death of George Floyd
Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020 after Chauvin pinned him to the ground outside Cup Foods at the intersection of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis and pressed his knee on his neck even as Floyd, who was handcuffed, repeatedly cried out that he could not breathe. Two other Minneapolis police officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, helped restrain Floyd, while a third officer, Tou Thao, held back bystanders and kept them from intervening in the over nine-minute-long restraint.
The death of George Floyd: A timeline of a chaotic, emotional week in Minneapolis
Kueng, Lane and Thao are all charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter for their roles in Floyd’s death. Their state trial will take place in June 2022 after it was delayed to allow a federal case against all four officers, including Chauvin, to go forward. Last spring, a federal grand jury indicted Chauvin, Thao, Kueng and Lane on charges they violated Floyd’s civil rights during his deadly arrest in May 2020.
Floyd’s death sparked conversations about race and policing nationwide. As a result, the Justice Department has launched a sweeping civil investigation into the patterns and practices of the Minneapolis Police Department.