A former police officer who knelt at Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes was convicted last month of murder and manslaughter.
An attorney for former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin requested a new trial, two weeks after Chauvin was convicted of second and third degree murder and manslaughter in the murder of George Floyd.
In a series of motions filed Tuesday with District Court Judge Peter Cahill, Eric Nelson said the ex-officer was denied a fair trial, citing alleged misconduct by the prosecution and jury, errors of law at trial and that the verdict was against the law.
“The publicity here was so pervasive and so damaging before and during this trial that it amounted to a structural flaw in the process,” Nelson wrote in the petition, as reported by CNN.
Floyd’s murder was filmed and led to mass protests in the United States and around the world, with thousands of people taking to the streets to demand an end to police violence and racial injustice.
Chauvin’s conviction on April 20 had been welcomed by activists and politicians in the United States, who said it was an important step forward in the fight for justice.
Chauvin, who was filmed on May 25 last year with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, risks at least 75 years in prison – and potentially more if the judge finds aggravating factors sought by the prosecution. His sentence was set for June.
After news that Chauvin is seeking a new trial, Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump tweeted: “No. No. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.”
During the trial, Nelson had argued that jurors could be influenced by news surrounding the trial, including comments from politicians about what might happen as a result of the verdict.
Justice Cahill had rejected these arguments but asked jurors to avoid watching the news. The jury was sequestered after closing arguments in the case.
In his Tuesday petition, Nelson alleged that the jury made a mistake, felt pressured and / or did not follow the jury’s instructions, although the file did not include details of this claim. .
The brief did not mention recent reports that one of the jurors participated in an August 28 march in Washington, DC, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. This juror defended his actions, claiming that the event was not a protest against Floyd’s death.
Mike Hanna of Al Jazeera, of Washington, DC, said Chauvin’s attorney contended there were several issues with the lawsuit, including the the judge refused to move the place of Minneapolis.
“It is now up to the Minneapolis District Court to decide whether or not to deal with this complaint or to investigate further,” he said.
Hanna added that a call was not unexpected, but said “this is such a high profile case that has ignited so many emotions, that any attempt to try to overturn this verdict will be of deep public concern” .
Prosecutors last week asked the judge in charge of the case against Chauvin to take into account several aggravating circumstances when the former police officer was sentenced.
Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison and Senior Attorney Matthew Frank said Chauvin deserved a harsher sentence than state guidelines dictated because he was in a position of authority and treated Floyd, a vulnerable victim, with cruelty.
“The accused’s actions inflicted gratuitous pain and caused psychological distress to Mr. Floyd and the spectators,” prosecutors wrote, adding that Chauvin had “no attempt” to provide medical attention to Floyd.