Derek Chauvin: Judge drops third-degree murder; more serious charges stand

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin now faces the more serious charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. File Photo courtesy Ramsey County Sheriff's Office

Oct. 23 (UPI) — A Minnesota judge on Thursday dismissed a third-degree murder charge for the former Minneapolis police officer who caused George Floyd’s death, but maintained the other more serious charges.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill sustained Derek Chauvin’s second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges, as well as aiding and abetting charges faced by three other former officers involved in Floyd’s death.

The judge said he dropped the third-degree murder charge because the language of the law says the crime must involve danger to more than one person.

“The language of the third-degree murder statute explicitly requires the act causing the ‘death of another’ must be eminently dangerous ‘to others,'” Cahill wrote.

Despite the dropped charge, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison praised the judge’s decision to proceed with the most serious of the charges.

“This means that all four defendants will stand trial for murder and manslaughter, both in the second degree. This is an important, positive step forward in the path toward justice for George Floyd, his family, our community, and Minnesota. We look forward to presenting the prosecution’s case to a jury in Hennepin County,” Ellison said.

Chauvin posted a $1 million bond earlier this month and left prison to await trial, which begins March 8. He was incarcerated at a state prison in Oak Park Heights, Minn., since May 31, less than a week after Floyd’s death.

The Minneapolis Police Department fired and arrested Chauvin after he was captured on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes on May 25. Floyd died after repeatedly calling for help, saying he couldn’t breathe.

Chauvin’s attorneys said officers were following protocol when they arrested and subdued Floyd. He was arrested on allegations he attempted to use a counterfeit $20 at a nearby food store. Police said he struggled during arrest, leading Chauvin to handcuff him face-down and kneel on his neck.

Fellow Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Keung and Tou Thao, who were involved in the arrest, were also fired and charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

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