Judge reinstates third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin in death of George Floyd

Early Thursday morning of March 11th, Judge Peter Cahill reinstated a third-degree murder charge against Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the trial over George Floyd’s death.

On May 29th, 2020 Chauvin was charged in the death of George Floyd. In addition to third-degree murder, Chauvin will face charges for second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. George Floyd died in police custody May 25th, 2020, after Chauvin restrained Floyd by holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes. Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill and accused of resisting arrest. Three other officers are charged with aiding and abetting second- degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter, but their trial will not begin until August 2021. On Wednesday, Fox 9 reported that two of the officers will not testify in Chauvin’s trial. According to the Minnesota State Legislature, if Chauvin is found guilty, he could be facing anywhere from ten to forty years in prison. While the juror selection continues, the third-degree murder charge increases the odds of the prosecution achieving a conviction.

Last October, Judge Cahill originally dismissed the third-degree murder charge, claiming, “…[it] was not an appropriate case for a third-degree murder charge” (AP News). After pushback from the prosecution and a motion from the state’s Court of Appeals, the charge was reinstated three days after juror selection began (Fox9). The Court of Appeals used Minneapolis police officer Mohammed Noor’s case as justification to reinstate the charge. Last year, Fox 9 reported Noor was charged with third- degree murder after shooting a woman he thought was approaching his squad car with ill intent. Though the cases are quite different, the Court of Appeals thought Noor’s case was precedent for Judge Cahill to reinstate the charge.

As the trial proceeds with opening statements scheduled for March 29th, some are concerned about the possibility of a fair trial with an ‘angry mob looking on’ (Herald). Major activists and protestors seen all over the United States in 2020 expressed their belief George Floyd was murdered because of his race, even though Chauvin’s charges all indicate his actions were unintentional. Soon after the trial began, protests and riots have already ensued resulting in the death of one person in George Floyd Square. Since Floyd’s death, there has been a worldwide reaction of sympathy on both sides of the case. However, media figures on the side of the defense believe Floyd’s autopsy suggests a mix of factors. For example, NPR reported that neck injuries were not present, he had hypertension, tested positive for COVID, and had lethal substances in his blood. Also, the Minneapolis Police Department depicts a neck restraint in their training materials similar to Chauvin’s actions. This evidence is why many believe Chauvin will not be found guilty, and may be why the prosecution against Chauvin was ‘gratified’ with the decision to reinstate the third-degree murder charge (CNN).

As the outcome of the trail is heavily disputed, on both sides, a third-degree charge did not seem to change many opinions regarding views on whether or not Chauvin is responsible for Floyd’s death.




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