A juror in the Derek Chauvin trial attended a protest last year with a shirt saying 'Get your knee off our necks,' possibly complicating the officer's guilty verdict

Ashley Collman
·5 min read
Brandon Mitchell
Brandon Mitchell, a juror in the Derek Chauvin trial. Star Tribune via Getty
  • Brandon Mitchell was on the jury that found Derek Chauvin guilty of George Floyd's murder.

  • A recently surfaced photo shows Mitchell at a police-reform protest wearing a BLM shirt.

  • Legal experts said they believed the photo would lead to questions in court.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A recently surfaced photo shows one of the jurors in Derek Chauvin's trial wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt at a police-accountability protest last summer, possibly complicating the former officer's guilty verdict.

The photo shows Brandon Mitchell, or Juror 52, at a rally in August in Washington, DC, named the "Get Off Our Necks" Commitment March.

The protest was pegged to the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington. The shirt Mitchell wears in the photo includes King's likeness and the words "Get your knee off our necks" and "BLM."

Several people on Twitter said this suggested Mitchell was impartial as a juror.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Last month, Mitchell and 11 other jurors found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose neck the officer knelt on for several minutes.

Chauvin, who's awaiting sentencing in June, faces up to 40 years in prison on the most serious conviction, second-degree murder.

Legal experts told the Star Tribune, CBS Minnesota, and The Washington Post that the image would likely lead to questions in court, though they differed over a possible result.

The experts said the discovery of the photo could give Chauvin a stronger case for an appeal and possibly even a mistrial.

Juror said he didn't attend police-brutality protests

Jurors were asked on their initial questionnaire whether they had participated in any "demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd's death" and whether they or anyone close to them had "participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality."

Mitchell told the Star Tribune that he answered no to both questions and felt he had been "extremely honest" in answering the questionnaire.

He made conflicting comments about the T-shirt. He told CBS Minnesota that he wore it to reflect events in 2020, not because he believed he was attending a protest focused on Floyd. But in his interview with the Star Tribune, he said he had no recollection of wearing or owning the shirt.

Mitchell told the Star Tribune that the march in August was "100% not" a march for Floyd but a voter-registration rally.

However, Floyd's brother and sister, Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, spoke at the event, which was organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network. Sharpton had announced the march during Floyd's memorial and has maintained close ties to the Floyds' legal team. He was at the press conference last month where the Floyd family and their legal team reacted to the Chauvin verdict.

NAN described the August march as "instigated from the protest movement that has risen up since the police killing of George Floyd" and meant to "demonstrate our advocacy for comprehensive police accountability reform, the Census, and mobilizing voters for the November elections."

Joseph Daly, a professor emeritus at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, told the Star Tribune that if Mitchell "specifically was asked, 'Have you ever participated in a Black Lives Matter demonstration,' and he answered, 'No,' to that, I think that would be an important appealable issue."

The civil-rights attorney Brian Dunn told The Post that an inquiry could focus on whether Mitchell "lied about, or failed to provide complete answers on whether he has engaged in public activism, or whether he has any affiliations with BLM that go beyond the mere wearing of the shirt."

"If it is determined that the juror did not provide full disclosure to the defense, the question then becomes whether this lack of candor violated Mr. Chauvin's right to a fair trial," Dunn said.

'It's really hard to overturn a conviction'

In general, the experts said the photo would lead to questions in court and could bolster Chauvin's appeal case. It could also lead to a mistrial, though that would be an extreme conclusion.

Experts who spoke with CBS Minnesota agreed that Mitchell would have to be questioned in what's known as a Schwartz hearing and said that depending on his answers, a mistrial could be called.

But Rachel Moran, a law professor, told CBS Minnesota that it would be hard to overturn Chauvin's guilty verdict.

"It's really hard to overturn a conviction, and courts are especially reluctant to interfere with the jury deliberation process," Moran said.

Alan Tuerkheimer, a jury consultant, told The Post that Chauvin's attorney would likely use the photo to push for an appeal but that the photo in and of itself was not enough to dismiss the conviction.

Tuerkheimer said Mitchell could be questioned to assess whether he lied on the questionnaire, had an agenda, or came to the case with his mind made up.

"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," Tuerkheimer said.

Was Chauvin's lawyer thorough?

It could also be the case that Chauvin's defense attorney didn't do a good enough job screening Mitchell.

Daly told the Star Tribune that jurors are not expected to open up their entire lives and list everything they've "ever done that may or may not relate to this case."

"It's the job of the lawyers to look for and find unbiased jurors," he said.

The Minnesota Attorney General's Office, Chauvin's defense attorney, and Mitchell did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Insider