One of the twelve jurors who sat on the Derek Chauvin trial revealed he became convinced beyond reasonable doubt the former Minneapolis cop was guilty in the death of George Floyd following the testimony of pulmonary expert Martin J. Tobin.
Brandon Mitchell, who is also the first juror to publicly speak about the intense and emotional trial, made those comments during an interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show on Wednesday. Mitchell, 31, said Tobin’s scientific but comprehensive explanation of the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death in the hands of Chauvin was a crucial moment in the trial.
Floyd passed away after Chauvin knelt on his neck for over nine minutes despite repeatedly telling him he couldn’t breathe. “I think the way he broke everything down but still kept it very scientific … that was kind of the point where I was kind of like I don’t know how the defense comes back from this,” he said.
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Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd by a jury on April 20. He could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for manslaughter. Floyd’s May 25 death sparked nationwide protests both within and outside the United States in what was a year of racial reckoning. Chauvin’s trial also garnered nationwide attention and particularly created a tense atmosphere in Minneapolis.
However, Mitchell said the happenings outside the courtroom did not influence jury deliberations. “We just felt like the evidence was overwhelming for our verdict,” Mitchell, who was known as juror 52, said. “It didn’t have to do with pressure from anywhere. We all walked in with an open mind, and we left with a guilty verdict.”
The high school basketball coach also spoke about Chauvin’s posture during the trial, saying it gradually changed as the days passed. “From my perspective, it looked like he was very confident the first week week and a half,” Mitchell told the “TODAY” show. “I personally could see the confidence kind of deteriorating from him a little bit … as more and more witnesses came up.”
Prior to the trial, Mitchell admitted he could not completely watch the video of Floyd’s death because it was “it was too gruesome”, adding that having to repeatedly watch the full video in court “was tough.”
“It’s just tough to watch as a human being, just to watch somebody in agony, watch somebody die over and over again on instant replay basically,” Mitchell, who is Black, said. “I can see myself within this person, you know, this is another black man, athlete — I’m a black man, athlete — those types of things they resonate with me so it was extremely tough.”
Mitchell also told CBSN Minnesota the trial took such a toll on him, it got to a certain point he wanted to skip jury duty. “I was minutes away from calling my mom like a little kid and just saying, ‘Mom, I’m not going on Monday,’ because it was that emotional,” he recalled.
Nevertheless, he said he went back to fulfill his duties as a young Black man. “My representation needed to be there. So that’s kind of how I thought about it. It was like if I’m not there, who will be there?” he said, adding that that was also the reason he decided to publicly speak about the trial following Chauvin’s conviction.
“Especially with me … wanting to be a community figure, and I’m a basketball coach, it’s important to show that you can be a strong Black man, you can be in these rooms and you can be part of these civil services,” he said.