Derek Chauvin’s Jurors Needed Therapy: ‘It Just Hurt My Whole Soul’

Seven of the 12 jurors involved in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial spoke out for the first time to CNN. They’re traumatized.
In this April 12, 2021, file photo, from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, becomes emotional as he testifies as Hennepin County court Monday,, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin.
In this April 12, 2021, file photo, from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, becomes emotional as he testifies as Hennepin County court Monday,, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin. (Court TV via AP, Pool, File)

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The murder of George Floyd left a dark stain on the collective psyche of Americans—and especially on the people responsible for sending Derek Chauvin, the ex-cop who killed him, to prison for decades.

Seven of the 12 jurors involved in Chauvin’s trial back in March and April spoke—for the first time since they handed down the guilty verdict—with CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday. The group offered new insights into how they came to the verdict and their experiences during the three and a half weeks of testimony. And the painstaking attention they paid to every detail of the evidence—including repeatedly watching the video of Floyd’s death—came at a price: Many of the jurors spoke about long-term emotional effects and have even sought counseling.

“I never experienced anything like that before. I don’t think any of us have,” juror Sherri Belton Hardeman said. “It just hurt. It just hurt my whole soul, my whole body. I felt pain for his family. It was very hard.”

Nicole Deters, a juror who said she avoided the footage of Floyd’s death before she was selected to serve, said the video affected all of them. But the group had no choice but to repeatedly review the footage, which showed Chauvin kneeling on the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for more than 9 minutes, if they wanted to hand down a proper ruling.

“I can’t imagine what it was like for some of the other people in the room, but it’s traumatic,” she said. “One of the jurors said, ‘Let’s not watch the video just to watch the video again. I just can’t stand any more of it.’”


"I'm still trying to understand nine minutes and 29 seconds. Why?” Belton Hardeman told CNN. “I don't think that Derek Chauvin could explain that to me ever."

The jury’s feelings on the video mirrors much of what the country underwent last May when the video, taken by a teenage bystander, was first released to the public. Floyd’s death not only renewed the push for police reform and equitable treatment of Black Americans but also traumatized people, especially Black Americans. 

Last summer, Black therapists told VICE News they saw a noticeable spike in Black men and women seeking therapy, for the first time, in the immediate aftermath of the death of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. And they’re still experiencing the uptick, even now.

Darnella Frazier, the Black teen who won an honorary Pulitzer for filming Floyd’s death, testified during the trial that she had nightmares for months after what she witnessed that day. Several other witnesses who took the stand broke down in tears recounting the horror of watching Floyd’s death in person.

For many of the jurors, however, Frazier’s footage provided the ultimate proof needed to convict Chauvin.

"Without Miss Frazier's video, I don't think we'd be sitting here today, to be honest with you," juror Lisa Christensen said.

Several of the people who sat on the jury also told CNN they felt the constant pressure that came with being part of one of the most important trials in recent American history. But they insist that the pressure never interfered with their desire to get this verdict right. Speaking to the public now was about setting the record straight.

“People are saying that we were pressured to give that verdict that day, pressure on us to convict,” juror Tossa Edorh said. “That was not true. We went through everything, every fact, before we made our decision.

Deters showed off six notebooks of notes she took during the trial alone.

“I think people need to know that due diligence was done and taken very seriously,” she said.