Chauvin Juror: Racial Climate, Protests Did Not Influence Guilty Verdicts (ABC/"Good Morning America")
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Wednesday, 28 April 2021 09:19 AM
The jury's decision to return guilty verdicts on all three charges in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd were not affected by climate and the protests in the nation's streets did not affect tone of the jurors in the case said Wednesday.
"We weren't watching the news, so we don't know what was going on," the juror, Brandon Mitchell, told ABC's "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts, in the first television interview from a member of the Chauvin jury.
"We were really just locked in on the case, and there was so much stress coming from the case," Mitchell added. "I mean those things are so secondary because you're literally, throughout the trial, you're watching somebody die on a daily basis, so that stress alone is enough to take your mind away from whatever's going on outside of the four walls of the courtroom."
And as a result, the controversy outside the courthouse "wasn't even something that was in any of our minds, I don't think so," said Mitchell, a 31-year-old basketball coach at North Community High School in Minneapolis.
The jury's verdict came under fire from several conservative political figures, who maintained that the decisions came because of outside influences and were not fair to Chauvin, the police officer found guilty of murder and manslaughter for holding his knee to Floyd's neck for almost 10 minutes before he died.
But Mitchell, who sent his condolences to the Floyd family, said the jury deliberations, which went on for four hours, were "straight forward."
"There were a few hiccups with terminology and understanding exactly what the instructions were for each case," said Mitchell. "For the most part we got in, we got out."
There was one juror, he added, who was a bit slower than the others to reach a verdict. However, that juror wasn't "slowing us down" but instead was "being delicate with the process and was "just hung up with the words within the instructions and just wanted to make sure that they got it right."
The video of Floyd's death was probably the most important piece of evidence, Mitchell continued, but he also found the testimony of MMA fighter Donald Williams and that of Dr. Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist specializing in the mechanics of breathing, to be vital.
"Once Dr. Tobin got on the stand, and the way he spoke and the detail that's gave and the way he gave the details, I thought that he solidified the prosecution's case," said Mitchell.
The fact that Chauvin did not take the stand was "probably to his detriment," as some on the jury were curious about what his thoughts were throughout Floyd's death.
He added that it was important that the jury was diverse and included men and women, with four Black people, six white jurors, and two identifying as multi-racial, serving. He also said the jury results show the importance of Black men showing up for jury duty.
"If we want to be viewed differently in society and start to see different results, we have to start to do those things," he said. "We have to put them in the forefront and jury duty is definitely one of those things, especially with the insane number of Black men being incarcerated so, yes, so we definitely have to get on those panels and stuff like that."
Meanwhile, he said Floyd's name is "going to live on," as his "legacy is now cemented in history. It's now become so much bigger than him as an individual. He's now become almost — he's become a legacy and it's a legacy that will forever be here and will forever hopefully create some change within society."
Also appearing on "CBS This Morning," Mitchell said much of the testimony "had its impact" on him, as he identified with also being a "larger Black man."
"I'm 6'4", 250 pounds," he said. "Some of the testimony is like saying how size can be considered like, you know, is it a risk or threat. Whereas me, I'm a gentle giant, stuff like that, that affects me in a way that — it's weird. I don't know if it affects anybody the same way."
Mitchell further told CBS that he is not concerned at all with his safety after the guilty verdict, and he had no opinion about what Chauvin's sentence should be.
The former police officer is facing up to 40 years in prison on the second-degree murder charge.
"I think we came up with the right verdict, you know, guilty on all charges," said Mitchell. "I'll let the judge do what he does."