A jury was seated on Tuesday for the high-profile trial of the white police officer facing murder and manslaughter charges for the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man whose last breaths were captured on video.
Opening arguments in the trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, are scheduled to begin on Monday and it is expected to last about a month.
Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the police force, could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge — second-degree murder.
Floyd's May 25, 2020 death during his arrest sparked protests for racial justice and against police brutality across the United States and around the world.
The judge presiding over the case, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on 15 jurors after two weeks of intensive questioning of prospective candidates in a heavily guarded courtroom in downtown Minneapolis.
The 15 jurors selected are six white women, three Black men, three white men, two mixed race women and one Black woman.
One of the jurors will be dismissed by the judge on Monday and 12 jurors will hear the case and decide Chauvin's fate while the other two serve as alternates.
"We have 15," Judge Peter Cahill said. "Fourteen will be seated. That's all we have room for."
All but one of the jurors, a white man in his 20s, said they had watched some if not all of the bystander video of Chauvin kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd for nearly nine minutes during his arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill in a store.
Diverse jury pool
The 15 jurors seated reflect the diverse and cosmopolitan nature of Minneapolis, the largest city in the northern US state of Minnesota.
Their identities will not be revealed until after the trial but some details are already known.
The jurors selected range in age from their 20s to their 60s.
One is a chemist, one is a social worker and another is an accountant. One works in a bank while another is a nurse. Two are immigrants to the United States.
One is a grandmother, one is recently married and one is a single mother of two teenage boys.
Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, asked last week to have the trial delayed and moved out of Minneapolis because of the March 12 announcement that the city had reached a $27 million "wrongful death" settlement with the Floyd family.
Judge Cahill rejected the defense motions saying that "the pre-trial publicity in this case will continue no matter how long we continue it."
"As far as change of venue, I do not think that that would give the defendant any kind of a fair trial beyond what we are doing here," he said.
"I don't think that there's any place in the state of Minnesota that has not been subjected to extreme amounts of publicity on this case."
Three other police officers — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng — also face charges in connection with Floyd's death.
They are to be tried separately later in the year.