A Hennepin County judge reinstated former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin’s charge of third-degree murder on Thursday.
Chauvin already faced charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd.
Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder, but Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill dismissed the charge in October, stating that it could only “be sustained only in situations in which the defendant’s actions were ’eminently dangerous to other persons’ and were not specifically directed at the particular person whose death occurred.”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Floyd’s family, was accepting of Cahill’s decision to maintain the second-degree murder charge.
“We are gratified that the court preserved eight of the nine charges against Derek Chauvin, including the more serious second-degree murder charge for which we expect a conviction, based on the clear and evident use of excessive force that we all saw on video. We will continue to fight for justice in the civil courts and will advocate both for justice in the criminal system and for meaningful police reforms. The family of George Floyd has confidence that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will make sure that the officers are held accountable to the full extent of the law based on the evidence that we witnessed on that video tape.”
In Minnesota, second-degree murder is interpreted as causing death intentionally and comes with a maximum penalty of 40 years. Third-degree murder is characterized as unintentionally causing death and comes with a maximum of 25 years.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison then filed a motion last month asking a district court judge to reinstate the charge. He told CNN: “We believe the Court of Appeals decided this matter correctly. We believe the charge of third-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin.”
Jury selection commenced on Monday, and so far, five jurors have been selected for Chauvin’s trial.