Jury selection was due to continue for a second day on Wednesday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former policeman facing criminal charges for his role in the death of George Floyd during an arrest that caused an outcry around the world.
Judge Peter Cahill of the Hennepin County District Court has set aside three weeks to screen jurors, aware that most people have heard of Chauvin and even seen the bystander's video showing him with his knee on the dying Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.
Three jurors were seated on Tuesday after saying they could put aside their misgivings about Chauvin: a white man who is a chemist at an environmental testing lab; a woman who appeared to be of mixed race who said she was "super excited" to serve on a jury; and a white man who works as an auditor.
The trial on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges is seen as a landmark case on police violence against Black people in the United States, a country where police officers are rarely found to be criminally responsible for killing civilians.
Chauvin, 44, is white, and Floyd, who was being arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes, was a 46-year-old Black man who grew up in Houston before moving to Minneapolis.
Prosecutors say Chauvin should face an additional charge of third-degree murder over the objections of Chauvin's defense lawyers, a dispute that is being hashed out in appeals courts while the District Court presses ahead with jury selection.
Chauvin and the three other officers who made the arrest were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department the day after Floyd's death, which was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. Chauvin's lawyers say he stuck to his police training and did not use excessive force. The three other former police officers involved are to go on trial on charges of aiding and abetting Chauvin later this year.
Chauvin was released from jail on a $1 million bond last October and is being tried in a courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center, a tower in downtown Minneapolis now ringed with barbed-wire fencing and concrete barricades. Protesters chanted anti-racism slogans and blocked traffic on Monday, but few appeared in the largely deserted downtown streets on Tuesday.