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Chauvin juror defends participation in Washington protest

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — One of the jurors who convicted Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd on Monday defended his participation in a protest last summer in Washington, D.C., following online speculation about his motives for serving on the jury and whether it might be grounds for appeal.

A photo, posted on social media, shows Brandon Mitchell, who is Black, attending the Aug. 28 event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington. Floyd’s brother and sister, Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, and relatives of others who have been shot by police addressed the crowd.

That photo recently recirculated online, the Star Tribune reported.

It shows Mitchell standing with two cousins and wearing a T-shirt with a picture of King and the words, “GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECKS” and “BLM,” for Black Lives Matter. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds last May as Floyd said repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe.

Mitchell, 31, acknowledged being at the event and that his uncle posted the photo, but said he doesn’t recall wearing or owning the shirt.

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 D.C.,” Mitchell said of his reasons for attending the event. “The opportunity to go to D.C., 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.”

Mitchell and Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, have not returned messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Mike Brandt, a Minneapolis defense attorney not involved in the case, told the AP the revelation alone wasn’t nearly enough to overturn Chauvin’s conviction, but it could be combined with other issues — 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 — 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.”

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