The first juror to speak out about deliberations in the Derek Chauvin trial said Wednesday that nothing going on outside the courtroom influenced the jury’s decision to find the former Minneapolis police officer guilty on all counts for causing George Floyd’s death.
“We just felt like the evidence was overwhelming for our verdict,” Brandon Mitchell, juror 52, said on NBC’s “TODAY” show. “It didn’t have to do with pressure from anywhere.”
“We all walked in with an open mind, and we left with a guilty verdict,” the 31-year-old high school basketball coach added.
Mitchell, who is Black, is the first juror who was involved with deliberations in the trial to speak publicly about his experience. The judge in the case ordered last week that the jurors’ identities be sealed for at least six months. An alternate juror has spoken out, saying she would have voted guilty.
Members of the jury were not allowed to speak to one another about the case and were sequestered during deliberations, without access to electronics. Mitchell told gospel artist Erica Campbell on her radio show Tuesday that he also avoided news during the trial because listening to testimony was “draining” enough.
The jury repeatedly viewed videos showing multiple angles of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes.
He told NBC News that before the trial, he had never watched the video in its entirety because “it was too gruesome.”
“It was tough,” Mitchell said about watching the full video.
“There was days where I literally just didn’t want to go,” he said of jury duty.
“It’s just tough to watch as a human being, just to watch somebody in agony, watch somebody die over and over again on instant replay basically,” Mitchell said.
“I can see myself within this person, you know, this is another black man, athlete — I’m a black man, athlete — those types of things they resonate with me so it was extremely tough.”
Chauvin was convicted of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. The jury delivered the unanimous verdict following three weeks of witness testimony.
Chauvin faces up to 75 years in prison when he returns for sentencing. However, under Minnesota law, the sentences are likely to run concurrently, meaning he would serve no more than 40 years in prison.
Mitchell said Wednesday that all but one person in the jury was immediately on board with guilty verdicts on all counts.
“I think they just wanted to do their due diligence and wanted to make sure they understood the terminology correctly,” Mitchell said on “TODAY.”
While deliberations in total lasted about four hours, Mitchell said he didn’t think they needed to be longer than an hour.
“The evidence was overwhelming that he was guilty in my opinion,” he said. “I thought it was a no-brainer”
Pulmonary expert Martin J. Tobin’s testimony clinched the case for Mitchell. Tobin testified that the factor of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck and back was “extremely important” when considering what caused the lack of breathing that led to his death.
“I think the way he broke everything down but still kept it very scientific … that was kind of the point where I was kind of like I don’t know how the defense comes back from this,” Mitchell said.
The jury was made up of seven women and five men who range in age from their 20s to their 60s. Six of the jurors identify as white, four as Black and two as mixed-race. Two alternate jurors, both of them white women, listened to the testimony and closing arguments but did not join the deliberations.
Chauvin chose not to take the stand, but Mitchell said if he had, “I don’t think it would have hurt.”
“I mean, we found him guilty on all charges … It probably could have only helped him at that point,” Mitchell said.
From where he was sitting, Mitchell said Chauvin’s demeanor changed as the trial progressed.
“From my perspective, it looked like he was very confident the first week week and a half,” Mitchell said. “I personally could see the confidence kind of deteriorating from him a little bit … as more and more witnesses came up.”