Tampa Bay activists and legal experts weigh in on the start of the Derek Chauvin trial

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – All eyes are on Minneapolis this week, as the high-profile murder trail of Derek Chauvin begins.

Chauvin is the former Minneapolis Police officer accused of killing George Floyd after kneeling on this neck for more than eight minutes.

The Tampa Bay Community Action Committee organized a rally Monday night to stand in solidarity with protesters in Minneapolis.

“Right now we’re happy to see that Officer Chauvin was indicted and that this trial is able to happen,” said Davis Jones, with TBCAC.

They believe this could be a step towards justice.

“Now we have to continue to look for and push for an actual conviction so that George Floyd can get justice in Minneapolis,” said Jones.

Jeffrey Swartz, professor of law at the WMU-Cooley Law School, said this trial will be a challenging one.

“Everything that happened, none of it is really in dispute. The issue is going to be what was Chauvin’s state of mind if any and can you attach cause of death to what he did,” said Swartz.

The former Minneapolis police officer is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. A third-degree murder charge, thrown out by a judge in October, could be back on the table. Chauvin’s legal team asked for a review of that decision.

“Unlike 2nd degree murder which is a recklessness, they would have to show that what he did was to intentionally cause harm to George Floyd. That’s going to be hard,” said Swartz.

The jury selection process will also be a difficult one for a highly publicized case like this one. Swartz said it could take weeks of gathering information.

“Long questionnaires and they’re put together by the court along with the prosecution and the defense,” Swartz said.

The judge overseeing the trial paused the jury selection process on Monday for a day, while the appeal of the third-degree murder charge is reviewed.

Jury selection will end after 14 people are picked — 12 jurors who will deliberate the case and two alternates who won’t be part of deliberations unless needed. The jurors will be escorted to the courthouse daily and sequestered during deliberations. Their names will be kept confidential until further order of the court.

The earliest opening statements will begin is March 29.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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