Cahill also ruled that he will allow Chauvin’s defense to mention limited details of a 2019 interaction between Floyd and the Minneapolis police that was similar to the 2020 incident that left the 46-year-old Black man dead. He also will limit the testimony of a prosecution witness, a forensic psychiatrist who is being called to talk about Floyd’s reaction to officers at the 2020 scene but said he would reconsider during the trial.
The major decisions come as jury selection in the case nears a finish. On Thursday, three more jurors were picked for the trial — bringing the total number of those seated to 12. The court now needs just two alternates — though Cahill has said he could seek up to four.
On Wednesday, Cahill dismissed two of the seven jurors who had been seated in the case last week before Minneapolis officials announced the city’s record $27 million payout to Floyd’s family. Both told the judge it had compromised their ability to presume Chauvin innocent. But the court quickly replaced them with other jurors that same day.
In all, an additional seven jurors have been seated this week — including five who said they had seen news of the settlement but insisted it would not influence their decision-making.
Prosecutors pointed to the steady pace of jury selection this week as proof that pretrial publicity, including about the settlement, had not harmed Chauvin’s right to a fair trial. But Nelson has strongly implied jurors won’t be able to put the news out of their minds, even if they swear under oath that they are able to do so.
Cahill called the news of the settlement “unfortunate” and described the defense concerns as “legitimate’ but said Friday he ultimately believed the proceedings had not been compromised.
Nelson has repeatedly complained about the “suspicious timing” of the $27 million settlement — including on Thursday when he alerted the judge to comments made at a news conference with Minneapolis city officials where the city attorney admitted the settlement with the Floyd family was not yet final and still subject to approval by a federal judge.
Mayor Jacob Frey, a civil rights attorney, also told reporters he “disagreed with the underlying premise” that the settlement had affected Chauvin’s trial but declined to comment further, citing requests from Cahill to stop talking about the case.
In court, Nelson quickly seized on those comments, again questioning the motives of city officials and whether the settlement announcement “was necessary” given the agreement was not final and would not be for weeks.
Prosecutors later complained about Nelson’s comments, prompting a fiery exchange between the attorneys and Cahill, who angrily ordered all the parties involved to “stop talking about it.”
“I’ve asked Minneapolis to stop talking about it. They keep talking about it. We keep talking about it. Everybody just stop talking about it,” Cahill said. “Let me decide what the ramifications are. Are we clear on this?”
Nelson had also pressed Cahill to reconsider allowing a May 6, 2019, incident between Floyd and Minneapolis police to be presented to the jury.
In that incident, Floyd was handcuffed and placed in a police car without confrontation and taken to a police station, where he told officers he had swallowed as many as eight Percocet pills — a powerful prescription narcotic.
Cahill has repeatedly declined to allow mention of the 2019 incident at trial, saying it is irrelevant to Chauvin’s case. But the judge said he would allow limited details about the incident as it relates to Floyd’s medical condition at the scene.