An alternate juror who sat in on the trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin said she worried about future “rioting and destruction” and even personal harm if the jury did not agree to a guilty verdict.
When asked by a KARE 11 reporter if she wanted to be a juror, Juror 96 Lisa Christensen said she had “mixed feelings” due to the threat of social unrest that came with the case.
“There was a question on the questionnaire about it and I put I did not know. The reason, at that time, was I did not know what the outcome was going to be, so I felt like either way you are going to disappoint one group or the other. I did not want to go through rioting and destruction again and I was concerned about people coming to my house if they were not happy with the verdict,” she explained in an interview on Thursday.
Christensen, who was dismissed by Judge Peter Cahill as an alternate on Monday, also admitted that while she liked the transparency that came with a televised trial, it made the three-week period “more intense.” She also claimed the rioting that occurred in her town of Brooklyn Center during the trial did not affect her approach to conviction but did keep her from getting home one night.
“It did not impact me as far as the trial went. However, only being about six blocks from the police department, I could hear everything,” Christensen said. “When I came home, I could hear the helicopters flying over my house. … I could hear the flashbangs going off. If I stepped outside, I could see the smoke from the grenades. One day, the trial ran a little late, and I had trouble getting to my house, because the protesters were blocking the interstate, so I had to go way around. I was aware, but it did not affect me at all.”
Christensen’s confession follows concerns that Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters’ call to violence if the trial did not result in a guilty conviction could influence the jury’s verdict. Judge Cahill said the Democrat’s charged rhetoric could be grounds for a possible appeal.
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill conceded before warning elected officials to avoid commenting on judicial processes, a practice he called “abhorrent.”
President Joe Biden, however, ignored Cahill’s request that politicians not publicly discuss the trial when he announced on Tuesday that he had spoken with the family of George Floyd and that he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict.”
“It’s overwhelming, in my view,” Biden said on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered.”