The third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin, one of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd, has been dropped. Judge Peter Cahill however ruled on Thursday that Chauvin’s second-degree murder and manslaughter charges will remain.
Chauvin, who was released from custody recently after posting a $1 million bond, was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes despite the latter pleading he could not breathe. The former officer was arrested May 29 on initial third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. The murder charge was later upgraded to second-degree unintentional murder.
On Thursday morning, Cahill wrote in a 107-page court ruling that “prosecutors did not have probable cause for the charge because there was no evidence Chauvin’s actions were ’eminently dangerous’ to anyone other than Floyd,” reported the Daily Mail.
Cahill ruled that while third-degree murder is used in cases when a defendant’s actions could have harmed others, Chauvin is being accused in the death of just one victim.
“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.
Reacting to the dismissal of the charge, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement: “The court has sustained eight out of nine charges against the defendants in the murder of George Floyd, including the most serious charges against all four defendants.”
“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.”
Three other former officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. The three had requested to have charges against them dismissed, but Judge Cahill ruled against that request.
Floyd lost his life while being apprehended by the four officers after they were called to a grocery store over reports he had tried to pass a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.