Chauvin Guilty Verdict at Risk as Juror Exposed as Black Lives Matter Activist
Attended BLM protest wearing 'Get Your Knee Off Our Necks' T-shirt before trial
The guilty verdict against former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd may now be at risk after images have emerged showing a jury member at a Black Lives Matter rally before the trial.
Images show jury member Brandon Mitchell at an anti-police protest in Washington D.C. last year wearing a Black Lives Matter embossed baseball cap and a T-shirt with the words "GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECKS" and "BLM."
The slogan on Mitchell's shirt is a direct reference to Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck during his arrest before he died shortly after while in police custody.
A photo posted on social media shows Brandon Mitchell attending the August 28 event where Floyd's brother and sister, Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, gave emotional-charged speeches to the crowd.
Far-left activist Al Sharpton and relatives of other African Americans who have been shot by police also addressed the crowd that day.
The bombshell revelation has triggered speculation it will likely be grounds for Chauvin's appeal after it emerged that Mitchell lied about attending protests or rallies on the jury questionnaire.
Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, has yet to make an announcement about the discovery.
Mitchell, 31, has admitted the photo is of him from that date but defended attending the rally, claiming it was not explicitly a protest against police or commemoration for George Floyd.
However, while he acknowledges being at the event and that his uncle posted the photo, Mitchell claims he doesn't recall wearing or owning the BLM shirt with the George Floyd slogan.
Mitchell was one of 12 jurors who convicted Chauvin of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Mitchell, the first juror to go public, spoke to several media outlets last week, including The Associated Press.
"I'd never been to DC," Mitchell said of his reasons for attending the event.
"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."
Mike Brandt, a Minneapolis defense attorney not involved in the case, told the AP the revelation, combined with other issues during the trial, could be enough to overturn Chauvin's conviction.
The announcement of a massive civil settlement to Floyd's family during jury selection, the shooting of Daunte Wright, the judge's refusal to move the trial, and public statements from Joe Biden and Maxine Waters would be used in an appeal to say Chauvin was denied a fair trial.
Ted Sampsell-Jones, a professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, told the AP that the photo of Mitchell was "evidence that Chauvin can point to in order to establish that his right to an impartial jury was denied."
He added: "Speaking frankly, Chauvin did not have a fully impartial jury in the sense we usually give criminal defendants.
"That wasn't the fault of the judge or the prosecutors, it was simply a function of the incredible publicity and public pressure" surrounding the trial.
Mitchell said he answered "no" to two questions about demonstrations on the questionnaire sent out before jury selection.
The first question asked: "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?"
The second asked: "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?"
Mitchell told Nelson during jury selection that he had a "very favorable" opinion of Black Lives Matter, that he knew some police officers at his gym who are "great guys," and that he felt neutral about Blue Lives Matter, a pro-police group.
He also said he had watched clips of bystander video of Floyd being pinned and had wondered why three other officers at the scene didn't intervene.
He said he could be neutral at trial.
Mitchell told the Star Tribune that last summer's protest was "100 percent not" a march for Floyd.
"It was directly related to MLK's March on Washington from the '60s," he said.
"The date of the March on Washington is the date ...
"It was literally called the anniversary of the March on Washington."