Will there be justice for George Floyd? This suspect could be charged
In the continued pursuit of justice for George Floyd, former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin now faces an additional murder charge in the death of George Floyd after a Hennepin County judge reinstated a count of third-degree murder on Thursday. Chauvin already faced charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
The added charge provides prosecutors a third potential pathway to justice for George Floyd in the closely watched case, which began Tuesday with jury selection at the heavily fortified Hennepin County Government Center.
Third-degree murder, sometimes known as “depraved mind” or “depraved heart” murder, generally applies to a case in which a person does something eminently dangerous to others without regard for human life, such as randomly firing into a crowd or driving on the wrong side of the road.
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.
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 ruling declared that third-degree murder can be applied to acts directed toward a single person.
The reinstatement came after the state Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a request by Chauvin’s defense to review a Court of Appeals ruling that said the judge improperly denied prosecutors’ push to recharge Chauvin with third-degree murder. Cahill dismissed the count last fall.
Cahill said Thursday that he is now bound by the Appeals Court ruling. “I am granting the motion because although these cases are factually different – that is Noor and the case before us – I don’t think there is a factual difference that denies the motion to reinstate,” Cahill said. “When the intent is directed at a single person, then third-degree murder may apply. Single acts directed at a single person fall within the gambit of third-degree . . . accordingly, I am bound by that.”
Floyd’s final moments were captured on disturbing police & bystander video, and his death led to unrest & fires in the city as well as worldwide protests against police brutality & racism. All four officers involved were fired & charged in Floyd’s death. Chauvin is being tried separately due to coronavirus-related limits on courtroom space.
Jury selection challenge
Jury selection resumed for a third day Thursday, and a sixth member was added in the morning. He and the others are tasked with rendering a verdict in the trial of Chauvin, charged with killing Floyd last spring, who was pinned under Chauvin’s knee for more than nine minutes outside a south Minneapolis convenience store before he died.
The newest juror, a man who is married and Hispanic, joins a multiracial woman, a Black man, and three white men. The sixth person chosen is a route driver for an unspecified business who acknowledged that missing work for a month would be a financial burden, but one he could endure, saying, “If I am a good fit and can help, I’m OK.”
Two rejected candidates were clear on their juror questionnaire responses and in comments in court that watching the viral bystander video left them troubled with how Chauvin handled Floyd. A possible juror who was not chosen, who is Hispanic, likened Floyd’s detention to a war scene and left him with a negative impression of Chauvin. A woman, who is Black, said more than once that “you can’t unsee it.”