One of the 12 jurors who unanimously convicted former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on April 20 has become the first juror to speak out publicly about the deliberations.
Brandon Mitchell, a 31-year-old banker and high school basketball coach, served on the trial as juror number 52. He said the evidence against Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd was overwhelming and that reaching a unanimous verdict was the “easy part” after weeks of emotional testimony.
According to Mitchell, 11 out of 12 jurors voted to convict Chauvin on the manslaughter charge in a preliminary vote and that one juror was “unsure” about the terminology. After everyone explained their thought process the vote was unanimous. The jury deliberated for about 10 hours after weeks of testimony.
Mitchell said he found the testimony of Dr. Martin Tobin and witness and MMA fighter Donald Williams most compelling.
“He set the tone for the rest of the trial,” Mitchell said of Williams during an interview on “CBS This Morning.” “And then when Dr. Tobin came, with him speaking so scientifically but also making it understandable for everyone. … I just thought he broke it down in a manner that was easy for all the jurors to understand and I didn’t think there was any way for the defense to come back after that.”
Mitchell added that Tobin “kind of set it over the top” by explaining that Floyd was not able to breathe due to the restraint from the pressure inflicted both by Chauvin’s weight and from his chest being compressed against the street.
Mitchell also said he didn’t feel pressure to return a guilty verdict, even as people around the world were following the trial closely. “I don’t think any of us felt like that,” Mitchell said. But having to come in every day and “watch a Black man die” was stressful, he added.
“There were a few times were I was like, I don’t know how I’m going to make it in this next day.”
He said the jury room was a relief after what felt like “a funeral” everyday in the courtroom as video of Floyd crying out as Chauvin held him down for nearly 10 minutes after he allegedly used a fake $20 bill at a Minneapolis store on May 25. Mitchell said during an interview on “Good Morning America” that the footage was “probably the most important piece of evidence.”
“It’s not human nature to watch people die,” Mitchell said in an interview with The Associated Press. “You know you want to be able to help somebody … watching the same person die every day, and you see his family member in the [courtroom],” adding, “The decision was the easy part.”
Reaching an agreement on the third-degree charge took about four hours while the second-degree murder charge took just 30 minutes, he said.
Of the defense, led by attorney Eric Nelson, Mitchell said, “I just don’t think they had any, they didn’t have an avenue to go down,” adding “They threw a bunch of things out there just to see what would stick” but none did. He said Chauvin and Nelson’s confidence seemed to deteriorate as the trial went on.
Mitchell said he doesn’t think it’s likely that Chauvin testifying would have affected the verdict outcome but that it couldn’t have hurt, considering he was found guilty on all charges without testifying.
Rather than suggesting what Chauvin’s sentence should be, he said the jury had done their part and that the decision was up to the judge.
Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison and will be sentenced on June 25.