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Derek Chauvin: Judge dismisses 3rd degree murder charge, retains more serious 2nd degree murder in Floyd case

Chauvin continues to face other charges including the more serious charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter
UPDATED OCT 22, 2020
 Derek Chauvin (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office)
Derek Chauvin (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office)

A judge, on Thursday, October 22, dismissed the third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over the killing of George Floyd. Chauvin, 44, however, continues to face other charges including the more serious charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill, in his Thursday morning ruling, also denied motions to dismiss charges of aiding and abetting against the three other fired Minneapolis police officers charged in connection with Floyd's death. Ahead of the judge's ruling, the Hennepin County Government Center was seen being boarded up in an effort to brace for further protests from demonstrators demanding justice in Floyd's case, a Black man who was killed in police custody.

Four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd's brutal death were fired on May 26 after a video of the incident went viral on social media. The footage showed Floyd, an unarmed Black man, pleading with officers as one of them, Chauvin, knelt on his neck for over seven minutes. The 46-year-old, in a video recording of the incident, was consistently heard saying he could not breathe and eventually became unconscious. All four officers — Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Alex Kueng and Tou Thao — were later arrested in the case. According to the Hennepin County medical examiner's office, Floyd suffered cardiopulmonary arrest while he was being restrained by Chauvin.

(Getty Images)

Chauvin's third-degree murder charge dismissal will continue to stay for five days in an attempt to allow the state time to appeal the judge's decision. According to court documents, Judge Cahill ruled that "probable cause does not exist" for the third-degree murder charge against the officer. Under Minnesota law, a person is guilty of third-degree murder if "without intent to effect the death of any person, [the defendant] causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life."

The particular charge carried a maximum prison sentence of 25 years. The judge added that the state did not satisfy the three requirements for the charges to stand against Chauvin, including proof of Floyd's death, proof that Chauvin caused Floyd's death, and proof that Chauvin's intentional conduct that caused Floyd's death was "eminently dangerous to other persons" and done with a disregard for human life. The judge, however, denied a request to dismiss Chauvin's other and more serious charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.

During the hearing, the attorneys of the other three former cops also sought dismissal of aiding and abetting charges against them, arguing a lack of probable cause for the charges. However, the lawyers' arguments were dismissed by the judge in all three cases. The latest update in the case comes days after Chauvin was allowed to leave Minnesota before his murder trial because of "safety concerns". A Hennepin County judge, on October 9, ruled for conditional release after stating that the Department of Corrections had provided the court evidence of unidentified "safety concerns" in Chauvin's pretrial.

The judge, in his ruling, stated that Chauvin could either live in Minnesota or a neighboring state. The latest update in the case comes just a day after Chauvin bailed out of prison. The former cop was released from the Minnesota Correctional Facility on October 7, after being imprisoned since May 31. The 44-year-old, who was fired after widespread protests across the country past Floyd's death, was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin was held at the Hennepin and Ramsey County jails before being transferred to the Oak Park Heights facility.