Chauvin trial judge calls timing of settlement ‘unfortunate’

[JUDGE PETER CAHILL] "I wish city officials would stop talking about this case so much,"

The judge overseeing the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the deadly arrest of George Floyd on Monday called the timing of the city's $27 million settlement with Floyd's family "unfortunate."

[JUDGE PETER CAHILL] “You would agree that it's unfortunate, wouldn’t you?”

[PROSECUTER, MATTHEW FRANK] “That it’s unfortunate?”

[JUDGE PETER CAHILL] “That we have this reported all over the media when we’re in the midst of jury selection, as far as timing?”

[PROSECUTER, MATTHEW FRANK] “It’s certainly not my preference, your honor. I don’t even know which way that cuts. If that cuts for us, if that cuts against us.

Judge Peter Cahill added that he would soon recall the seven jurors seated last week to ask them if they had seen news of the settlement, which was announced on Friday, and whether it would affect their impartiality.

Derek Chauvin, a white ex-cop, was caught on camera last summer kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd, who is Black, cried out that he couldn't breathe.

Before jury selection resumed Monday, Chauvin's lead lawyer said the timing of the settlement and its subsequent news coverage could imperil his client's right to a fair trial.

[CHAUVIN DEFENSE ATTORNEY, ERIC NELSON] “by my count, this is the third highly prejudicial, and incredibly prejudicial, press leak or press release that has very suspicious timing to say the least, and has an incredible propensity to taint a jury pool.“

Chauvin's lawyer also asked the judge to again weigh moving the trial to a different county. Judge Cahill said he would consider it.

Floyd's death ignited global protests against racism and police brutality.

Chauvin and three other police officers were fired the day after the arrest.

Floyd's family filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit against Chauvin and the city of Minneapolis last year.

The city held a widely viewed news conference with family members on Friday to announce the $27 million settlement, described by Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Floyd's family, as one of the largest-ever settlements of its kind.

The court is planning to have opening arguments commence on March 29.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charge.