A photo has surfaced in recent days of a juror in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin that has prompted questions over his impartiality, legal experts say.

The photo, shared by several news sites, shows Brandon Mitchell, a 31-year-old high school basketball coach in Minneapolis, standing next to two relatives wearing a Black T-shirt with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. with the words “Get your knee off our necks,” as well as a black baseball cap with the letters BLM (Black Lives Matter.)

On Monday, Mitchell told the Star Tribune that the photo was posted on social media by his uncle in the District of Columbia in August 2020, during the commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream,” speech from 1963 in Washington.

He defended his attendance, saying it was not a march for George Floyd, according to the Star Tribune.

Mitchell, who is Black, is one of the 12 jurors who convicted Chauvin of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd on April 20, nearly 11 months after a viral video of the Black man pinned beneath the White officer’s knee sparked protests across the country and forced a national reckoning on race and policing.

Efforts to reach Mitchell for comment were unsuccessful. When questioned about his attendance at the demonstration in Washington last year, Mitchell told the Star Tribune that it was an “opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of Black people” and “to be a part of something.”


Some people on social media interpreted the photograph – and Mitchell’s confirmation of his attendance – as a sign of activism that tainted the juror’s ability to be “impartial” during Chauvin’s conviction process.

As part of the jury selection, the candidates were required to fill a 14-page questionnaire that were asked about a wide range of topics – including race, policing, education levels, professional experience and hobbies – to gather in-depth knowledge on the candidates.

It also asked prospective jurors about information they had on George Floyd, their opinions on the Black Lives Matter movement and, more specifically, whether they had attended protests or demonstrations against police brutality.

According to the Star Tribune, Mitchell said he responded “no” to the question if he, or anyone close to him, had ever participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality.

Jury consultant Alan Tuerkheimer said that Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson probably will not use this information to push for an appeal to the verdict and that the photo itself would not be enough to dismiss the conviction.

Tuerkheimer added that because Mitchell allegedly denied being involved in any protests, Judge Peter Chill could bring Mitchell in for further questioning to assess whether he was untruthful or whether he had an agenda or predetermined verdict in mind.


“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, adding that it is a “high standard” that Cahill would consider because he probably is not inclined to toss the entire trial and start over.

Tuerkheimer also noted the complexity of jury selection process and assessment of objective neutrality, adding that the juror did not see a connection between the march and the case.

Mitchell told the Star Tribune that he was “extremely honest” during the selection process and when he was asked about his views on the case and his favorable opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement. He added that he told Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, that when he saw the video of the Minneapolis officer pinning Floyd to the floor under his knee during his arrest, he wondered why the other three officers at the scene did not intervene.

Civil rights attorney Brian Dunn said that while the photo is “undeniably suggestive of a possible bias in this juror,” the critical inquiry will be to determine whether the juror “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.”

Dunn said this will involve a careful review of this juror’s questionnaire, as well as the statements made in open court.

“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 adding that this would require a much more detailed inquiry, typically addressed by an extensive evidentiary hearing.

Last week, Mitchell was the first juror to publicly speak about the historic trial that elicited global attention. In interviews with several media outlets, Mitchell shared details about the experience of being a juror, the factors that proved to be decisive in Chauvin’s conviction and the impact that the trial had on him.

“It wasn’t pressure to come to a guilty verdict,” Mitchell told Gayle King on “CBS This Morning.” “We stressed about the simple fact that every day we had to come in and watch a Black man die. That alone was stressful enough.”