The Minnesota Court of Appeal ruled on Friday that the trial judge should not have refused to reinstate third-degree murder charges against the ex-officer accused of killing George Floyd.
The appellate court’s decision means the matter will be reintroduced to Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who will reconsider whether Chauvin will face third-degree murder charges. Currently, Chauvin is facing second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in connection with Floyd’s death.
Juror selection in Chauvin’s trial is set to begin on Monday. However, the trial will be delayed if Chauvin’s lawyer appeals Friday’s ruling, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
Judge Cahill initially dropped the third-degree murder charge in November, but state prosecutors revisited the matter in early February, after the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld ex-Minneapolis cop Mohamed Noor’s third-degree murder conviction in Justine Damond’s 2017 shooting death.
The three other ex-officers involved in Floyd’s arrest, Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34 are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Last month, prosecutors sought to add aiding and abetting third-degree murder charges to their cases. It is not immediately clear whether Friday’s ruling affects those charges.
On May 25, Minneapolis police officers were filmed arresting Floyd, 46, on suspicion that he used a counterfeit bill at the Cup Foods supermarket. After police pulled Floyd out of his car and handcuffed him, Chauvin was filmed forcing his knee into Floyd’s neck for eight minutes. Floyd was heard gasping for air and saying he could not breathe before he lost consciousness and died.
While Hennepin County’s autopsy report stated that there was no evidence “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” an independent autopsy asserted that sustained forceful pressure on Floyd’s neck and back led to his death. Both reports mentioned drugs in Floyd’s system but concluded his death was a homicide.
Chauvin will be tried separately from the other three former officers. Their trial is scheduled to begin this summer.
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[Featured image: Derek Chauvin/Hennepin County jail; George Floyd; Facebook]