Updated: 5 p.m. EST, March 8
While the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis policeman accused in George Floyd’s murder stands in recess until Tuesday, Floyd’s sister Bridgett spoke publicly to address the public about the family’s hopes.
“My family and I are glad the wait is finally over and the date is here,” she said, reading from a prepared statement. “We are praying for justice, our hope is that justice prevails and that we can all use this as an opportunity to be better and do better for those around us.”
She said that she was present in the courtroom for the beginning of the procedures, as was Chauvin. Floyd emotionally described her brother as someone who would “give the shirt off his back to a stranger” and never let others see his problems because he was so willing to help others with theirs.
“That officer took a great man, a great father, a great brother, a great uncle...he was so family oriented, he loved his family, he loved his daughter. Gianna meant the world to him and we will never get that back,” she said, asking the public for their continued prayers and support.
Meanwhile, although there was no jury selection, motions continued at the Hennepin County Courthouse. Several individuals from the potential jury pool were dismissed due to cause, meaning neither the prosecution nor the defense felt they would make fair and impartial jurors.
Motions continue beginning Tuesday at 8 a.m. CST with the initial jury selection starting at 9 a.m. CST.
Jury selection was set to begin Monday (March 8) for the trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused in the death of George Floyd last May. But the beginning of the trial has been postponed for at least a day because Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the trial, wants to hear from the Minnesota Court of Appeals on whether a third degree murder charge should be added to the second degree murder and manslaughter charges.
Cahill heard arguments earlier on Monday about the additional charge, but ruled that the trial should move forward. With the decision that the Court of Appeals should be heard, jury selection will not start until at least Tuesday. However, court proceedings will continue. Defense attorneys said they will ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals ruling.
Floyd’s killing last May 25 was an incident that ignited a global reaction to police violence impacting Black communities. The trial, which will be separate from the trials of the other three former officers implicated in Floyd’s death, has been highly anticipated and has the city on edge.
Community organizers have been gathering in Minneapolis in the days prior to the trial, hoping for justice.
“The city is preparing for the worst," Brandyn Tulloch, 24 of Oakdale, Minn., told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "because they haven't done anything over the last nine months...They do nothing to listen to the people who are out here fighting for our lives."
RELATED: 5 Things To Know About The Case Against Derek Chauvin
Chauvin, 44, stands charged with second degree murder and second degree manslaughter in the May 25, 2020 death of Floyd, 46, who was originally from Houston, but had moved to the MInneapolis area. The two encountered each other when a store cashier suspected Floyd of passing a counterfeit $20 bill and called police. In an attempt to arrest him, Chauvin wrestled Floyd to the ground. Two other officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane assisted Chauvin in restraining him and a third, Tou Thao, served to prevent onlookers from intervening. While restraining him, Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck causing asphyxiation, and Floyd died shortly after.
Kueng, Lane and Thao will stand trial later this summer on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Prosecution and defense attorneys will pick 12 jurors and four alternates at Hennepin County Courthouse. With the delay, that process is expected to begin no earlier than Tuesday. Jury selection should take about three weeks.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office with the assistance of the Hennepin County attorney’s office will prosecute the case. Chauvin’s will be defended by attorney Eric Nelson. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Opening statements are expected March 29.
Prosecutors will have the footage of Floyd’s death captured by a bystander with a cellphone and policy body cameras to use as evidence to prove the charges. They hope to convince jurors that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death not intentionally, but by the assault of kneeling on his neck, causing him to die.
At the same time, medical examiner autopsy findings that Floyd died of cardiopulmonary arrest and that fentanyl and methamphetamine were discovered in his system will likely be used by the defense to argue that Chauvin’s actions were not the actual cause of Floyd’s death.
"At the end of the day [cause of death is] what the big argument will be about," defense attorney Andrew Gordon, a deputy director at the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis told the Star-Tribune. "What the defense will ultimately try to do is muddy the waters about what it means for Derek Chauvin to have caused the death."
Television cameras will be allowed in the courtroom, but because of coronavirus precautions, large numbers of spectators will not be permitted. Only one member of Floyd’s family at a time will be present.
RELATED: George Floyd’s Sisters Say They Miss Him ‘Every Day’
Meanwhile, demonstrators are gathering again outside of the Hennepin County Courthouse and other parts of Downtown Minneapolis, with a group of National Guard troopers stationed. Businesses and storefronts are boarded up in fear of massive protests damaging property similar to what happened last summer.
Ben Crump, Floyd family attorney said Floyd’s relatives are appreciative of people continuing to call for justice in the case.
“Their message is thank you for standing up and exercising your first amendment rights, but doing so in a peaceful way” Crump said on CBS News’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday.
Photo Credit: Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images