On Thursday (March 11), Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill announced he would reinstate a third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd after he knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes last May.
The former officer is already facing a second-degree murder charge, and a second-degree manslaughter charge.
Judge Cahill originally dropped the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin in October, which an appeals court said was an error on the judge’s part.
According to a report by NBC News, Cahill chose to drop the third-degree charge because he didn’t believe the circumstances of the case against Chauvin fit at the time, stating that Chauvin’s actions weren’t “eminently dangerous to other persons.” The three-judge panel from the appellate court said a precedent was set in 2017 when courts upheld a third-degree murder conviction of former police officer Mohamed Noor in the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an Australian woman who called 911 to report a possible sexual assault taking place.
On Wednesday (March 10), the Minnesota Supreme Court denied the defense’s effort to block the charge. That same day the state’s Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is prosecuting in the case, said in a statement: “We believe the charge of 3rd-degree murder is fair and appropriate. We look forward to putting it before the jury, along with charges of 2nd-degree unintentional murder and 2nd-degree manslaughter.”
In the first three days of the trial, five jurors have reportedly been selected, and opening statements are set to begin on March 29.
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