A juror who voted to convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd is defending his decision to attend a social justice demonstration last year.
“I’d never been to D.C.,” juror Brandon Mitchell told The Associated Press, referring to a march to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
“The opportunity to go to D.C., the opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of Black people; I just thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of something,” he added.
A photo of Mitchell at the event was recently recirculated by critics who suggested he was not an impartial member of the jury panel.
During the jury selection process, the AP noted, all jurors were asked two questions as part of a jury selection questionnaire.
“Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?” the first asked, with the second asking: “Other than what you have already described above, have you, or anyone close to you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?”
Mitchell reportedly answered “no” to both questions.
Mitchell separately told Chauvin’s attorney during the jury selection process that he had a “very favorable” opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement and that some police officers are “great guys.” He insisted he could be impartial during the trial.
“It was directly related to MLK’s March on Washington from the ’60s. … The date of the March on Washington is the date. … It was literally called the anniversary of the March on Washington,” Mitchell told the Star-Tribune in reference to the demonstration he attended last year.