Derek Chauvin juror Brandon Mitchell wore BLM T-shirt at DC rally but denied being at George Floyd protests
A photo featuring Mitchell wearing a BLM T-shirt has resulted in many questioning whether Chauvin was granted a fair trial and experts say this may help his appeal
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with second and third-degree murder and manslaughter last month. Chauvin was responsible for the murder of George Floyd, which took place on May 25, 2020, when Chauvin restrained Floyd by pressing his knee down on his neck for at least nine minutes.
Recently, photos of Brandon Mitchell, who was one of the 12 jurors who convicted Chauvin, have surfaced online. Incidentally, Mitchell is seen attending a rally in Washington and as per experts, this could have risked the verdict.
Mitchell is a 31-year-old banker as well as a high school basketball coach. He was one of the 12 jurors who were a part of the Chauvin trial. During the trial, he spoke to CBS about how his focus was on the testimony and evidence. “You tune everything else out, because you’re just stressed every day,” Mitchell said, while taking about how the case weighed on him. “You’re watching somebody die every day over and over again on video. You’re watching somebody die on instant replay, in real life. That’s not, I mean, everything else is tuned out," he explained.
“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 added, in the article which was reported in April. “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,” Mitchell added.
As reported by Star Tribune, it was brought to light that Mitchell attended the 'March on Washington' anniversary, resulting in online speculation that him having been a part of the jury could potentially be the ground for an appeal. The photo of Mitchell was originally posted on August 28 by his uncle. It features him wearing a shirt with the words 'Get Your Knee Off Our Necks' and 'BLM'. However, he claims to have no recollection of owning or wearing the said T-shirt.
Mitchel has spoken out, defending his attendance at the event. "I'd never been to DC," he explained. "The opportunity to go to DC, 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. It was directly related to MLK's March on Washington from the '60s… The date of the March on Washington is the date." The event focused on racial justice and George Floyd's siblings, Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, addressed the audience at the rally.
What do experts have to say?
The jurors had to fill out an extensive 16-page questionnaire, which impacted if the defense or the prosecution deemed them fit to be a part of the jury. Mitchell answered 'no' to two questions — "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?" And "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?" Both of which is being viewed as a conflict of interest.
As reported by Daily Mail, Mike Brandt, a Minneapolis defense attorney who is not associated with the case, said that these events combined with the announcement of a civil settlement to Floyd's family during the jury selection could be used to say that Chauvin was denied a fair trial. A professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Ted Sampsell-Jones, has also pointed out that Mitchell's photo was "evidence that Chauvin can point to in order to establish that his right to an impartial jury was denied."