Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was caught on camera kneeling on the neck of George Floyd become his death back in May, got some good news from a federal judge on Thursday when his third degree murder charge was dismissed.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter A. Cahill dismissed the charge today against Chauvin, who is still facing the more serious charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter, according to The Hill. The judge also decided not to dismiss the the aiding and abetting charges against J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, the other former officers involved in Floyd’s death.
This comes one month after a pre-trial hearing in which Chauvin’s lawyers teamed up with attorneys representing the other three ex-cops to file a motion calling for all charges against them to be dismissed. Chauvin’s lawyers were ultimately unsuccessful in arguing that Floyd had died from a drug overdose, not from anything their client did.
“Put simply, Mr. Floyd could not breathe because he had ingested a lethal dose of fentanyl and, possibly, a speedball,” Chauvin’s lawyer said in the filing. “Combined with sickle cell trait, his pre-existing heart conditions, Mr. Floyd’s use of fentanyl and methamphetamine most likely killed him.”
Floyd’s death was officially designated as a homicide after the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy report revealed he died from “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
Though Cahill dismissed Chauvin’s third degree murder charge, Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) ultimately saw his rulings today as a success, saying the judge’s decision was an “important, positive step forward in the path toward justice for George Floyd, his family, our community, and Minnesota.”
Cahill still must rule on whether the former officers will be tried together or separately, and if they should be tried somewhere outside Hennepin County. The judge has said that regardless of what he decides, they will all be tried in March.
Chauvin was released from prison earlier this month on $1 million. Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the Floyd family, has previously said that he wants to see him charged with first degree murder.
“For Chauvin to leave his knee on George’s neck despite warnings and evidence that his life was in danger — and to continue that course for many minutes — demands a first-degree murder charge,” Crump said back in June. “For George Floyd, the ambulance was his hearse.”
This piece was written by James Samson on October 22, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.
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