After initially being dismissed in October, the charges were reinstated on Thursday.
Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin now faces a third-degree murder charge in the death of George Floyd after a Hennepin County judge reinstated a count of third-degree murder on Thursday. This comes in addition to the charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter Chauvin already has against him. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The new charges opened the door to a third potential pathway to a conviction for prosecutors, who began jury selection on Tuesday. CNN commentator Keith Boykin explained the new reason for the new charges in a tweet. “Derek Chauvin will now be tried for felony murder, manslaughter and third-degree murder. Juries often have difficulty convicting police officers of higher offenses. This move helps ensure that Chauvin will be convicted of at least one of the charges,” the tweet read.
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. Since they are all separate charges, he could be convicted of all, some, or none of them.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison explained the magnitude of the case in a brief statement.
“The charge of 3rd-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin. We look forward to presenting all three charges to the jury,” she said.
Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder when he was initially arrested following the murder of George Floyd. In October however, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill dismissed the charges saying the charge did not apply to the case. In February, an appeals court ruling in the case of former Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor helped reinstate the charges against Chauvin, allowing the state to file an appeal of Cahill's ruling.
Last week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered Judge Cahill to reconsider the motion to reinstate the third-degree murder charge. On Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court refused the request by Chauvin's attorney to block the appellate court's decision, clearing the way for Cahill to reinstate the charge.