The judge overseeing the Derek Chauvin trial refused a request made Monday by the former officer’s defense team to sequester jurors following the fatal police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man over the weekend that sparked widespread protests near Minneapolis.
Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson filed a motion asking for the jury to be isolated, arguing the reaction over the Sunday police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota could impact jurors’ assessment of Chauvin’s guilt.
“The problem is the emotional response” from the Wright shooting, which could sway Chauvin jurors, Nelson argued.
The defense attorney also noted at least one juror lives in Brooklyn Center, where Wright was fatally shot after police stopped his vehicle for a traffic violation.
However, the prosecution opposed the motion and highlighted that the incidents involve different police forces, as Chauvin was a member of the Minneapolis Police Department, while the shooting this weekend involves the Brooklyn Center Police Department.
Judge Peter A. Cahill ultimately sided with prosecutors, saying that jurors were already aware of the unrest following George Floyd’s May 25 death and that sequestration would just aggravate security concerns.
“I realize there’s civil unrest and some of the jurors did hear about that,” said Cahill, but “this is a totally different case.”
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Though they won’t be sequestered throughout, jurors will be isolated after all of the testimony has ended and they begin their deliberations.
Hundreds of protesters gathered around Brooklyn Center Police Department Headquarters on Sunday night following Wright’s death. According to a police statement, officers pulled over the 20-year-old for a traffic violation at 2 p.m. local time on Sunday and discovered he had an outstanding warrant. Wright was shot while trying to re-enter the vehicle while officers were trying to arrest him, police said. Kate Wright, the mother of the deceased, told reporters at the scene that police had pulled Wright over for having air fresheners dangling from his rear-view mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota.