MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The judge in the George Floyd case has dropped one of the murder charges for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who continues to face a more serious murder charge, along with a manslaughter charge. The charges for the other three officers in the case also stand.
On Thursday, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill dismissed Chauvin’s third-degree murder charge, but denied a request to dismiss the ex-officer’s more serious second-degree unintentional murder charge. His second-degree manslaughter charge also remains.
According to the court documents, probable cause does not exist for the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin. The judge decided that state law is clear that the actions must put others at risk, and that because Chauvin’s actions only focused on Floyd, the third-degree murder charge doesn’t apply.
Just spoke with ACLU exec director Minnesota. He told me people should not get confused by the dropping of 3rd degree murder charge. Said it allows more probable case to go forward and jurors can focus on the more serious charge (2nd degree murder)
— Kate Raddatz (@KateRaddatz) October 22, 2020
Cahill also ruled that he will not dismiss aiding and abetting charges from the other three officers — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng. The attorneys for those former officers argued lack of probable cause.
Gov. Tim Walz announced early Thursday afternoon that he activated the Minnesota National Guard, about 100 soldiers, to assist local law enforcement in the Twin Cities.
“In light of developments in the George Floyd case, we’ve taken the precautionary step of asking the Minnesota National Guard to prepare to help ensure safety for Minnesotans,” said Governor Walz. “I want to remind Minnesotans that today’s ruling marks a positive step in the path toward justice for George Floyd.”
The Minnesota State Patrol also mobilized state troopers to aid local law enforcement.
Cahill is still deciding whether the jury should be anonymous; if the trial should happen in Hennepin County; and whether the officers involved should have separate trials.
The defense teams for the four ex-Minneapolis police officers wanted to keep the jury anonymous and sequestered for the integrity of the trial. Prosecutors say that wouldn’t be transparent enough.
The defense teams sought to move the trial out of Hennepin County due to publicity concerns, but Judge Cahill has asked them to try to find a suitable jury in Hennepin County before they consider changing locations. Separate trials would, of course, bring separate verdicts.
Earlier this week, Cahill ruled that body camera footage from a 2019 arrest of Floyd would not be allowed to be used as evidence in the trial. However, he did say that a transcript of the video may be presented.
Chauvin, who was captured on cellphone video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as the Black man lay handcuffed, is charged with second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter. The other three officers face charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison reacted to the court’s decision Thursday morning.
“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,” Ellison said. “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.”
The trial for the former officers is currently set for March of 2021.
Source: CBS Minnesota