A photo circulating on social media, which shows a juror in the Derek Chauvin trial wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during a racial justice demonstration, is sparking concerns over bias in the Chauvin verdict and leading some to speculate that it could bolster an appeal in the case.
The photo: Brandon Mitchell, one of the 12 jurors who two weeks ago convicted Chauvin of murder, told the Star Tribune this week that the photo was taken at a rally in Washington, D.C., last summer to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “March on Washington.”
- Relatives of George Floyd, the man whom Derek Chauvin was convicted of killing, spoke at the event to advocate against police brutality and for reforms in law enforcement.
- In a photo posted to Facebook by his uncle, Mitchell is seen wearing a “Black Lives Matter” hat and a T-shirt with Martin Luther King’s image and the words, “BLM” and “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks.”
- Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
The controversy: Mitchell said his responses to a juror questionnaire, which asked if he’d attended police protests or marches against police brutality in Minneapolis following Floyd’s death, were truthful.
- “I think I was being extremely honest, for sure,” Mitchell told the Tribune, in reference to having answered “no” to the questions. “I gave my views on everything — on the case, on Black Lives Matter.”
- According to Mitchell, the event he attended last summer was “100 percent not” a rally for Floyd.
- One Minneapolis-based defense attorney told the Tribune that Mitchell’s failure to disclose his attendance at the event was “disconcerting” and would likely have led to his removal from the jury pool.
The consequences: Brian Dunn, a civil rights attorney, told The Washington Post that if Mitchell was deemed not to have provided a “full disclosure to the defense,” a judge would then have to decide whether Chauvin’s right to a fair trial had been violated.
- “That could change the outcome of things; if there is anything that makes him seem that he was not forthcoming, it could be an avenue for the judge to reconsider the case,” jury consultant Alan Tuerkheimer told The Post.
- Tuerkheimer also said Mitchell’s questionnaire answers could provide grounds for an appeal by Chauvin’s attorney.