This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire
. The author of this post is Emily Zanotti
A Minnesota judge reinstated a third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Thursday, giving the jury an opportunity to find Chauvin guilty in the death of George Floyd even if they do not believe his actions rose to the level of second-degree murder.
Chauvin is accused of killing George Floyd, an unarmed black man that Chauvin tried to arrest back in May of 2020. During their interaction, which was captured on a video that later went viral, Chauvin is seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for nine minutes while Floyd cries out. An official medical examiner's report found that the incident was the proximate cause of Floyd's death.
The incident gave rise to national anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests.
Chauvin and three other Minnesota police officers were, subsequently, fired from the Minnesota Police Department and Chauvin was charged in Floyd's death. The three other officers are charged with aiding Chauvin but they are being tried separately because of concerns about COVID-19.
Chauvin is currently charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter and his trial is in the jury selection phase. Prosecutors wanted the third-degree murder charge that did not require intent to kill, however. In Minnesota, third-degree murder is a crime of extreme recklessness, like "when a person fires a gun in a crowd without intending to kill anyone, for example,"
according to a Minnesota legal resources website. "[Third-degree murder] is charged when a person is killed and the defendant has an indifference to the sanctity of human life."
"Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder in the days after Floyd's May 2020 death, but Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill dismissed the count in October, saying it did not apply to this case,"
CNN reported Thursday. "However, an appeals court ruling in February in the case against former Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor opened the door to reinstating the charge against Chauvin, and the state subsequently filed an appeal of Cahill's ruling."
"The Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered Cahill to reconsider the motion to reinstate the charge last week,"
the outlet continued. "On Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court refused a request by Chauvin's attorney to block the appellate court's decision, clearing the way for Cahill to reinstate the charge."
Chauvin's attorneys took exception to the third-degree murder charge being added so late in the game, just as the trial is beginning, but Cahill was clear that Chauvin's attorneys could have anticipated the change, given that Chauvin was initially charged with the "depraved-heart" murder.
"This charge has not come out of left field,"
Cahill said in his remarks to the court on Thursday as the trial was getting underway. "It was originally charged. I think the defense has been aware that the state will take every opportunity to try and add it back."
"If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter,"