Judge dismisses critical murder charge against ex-police officer in George Floyd death

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin poses for an undated booking photograph taken after he was transferred from a county jail to a Minnesota Department of Corrections state facility. Minnesota

A judge dismissed the third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin but said he still had to face second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in George Floyd’s death, according to a court ruling released on Thursday.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill also denied motions to dismiss the charges against three other officers who were at the scene on May 25 when Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd died later that day.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison portrayed the ruling as a win for his office.

“The court’s decision to dismiss just one of the lesser charges against just one of the defendants — while leaving intact all the charges against the other three defendants — is based on how appellate courts have interpreted the statute in question,” Ellison said in a statement.

“We are considering our options in light of the court’s strong order on the remaining charges.”

Chauvin, who is white, had been charged with second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd, a Black man. Videos of the incident set off nationwide protests over police brutality and racism.

In his ruling, Cahill said a third-degree murder charge was appropriate in cases in which a defendant’s actions were “eminently dangerous to other persons” and were not specifically targeted at the person who died.

“The evidence presented by the State does not indicate that Chauvin’s actions were eminently dangerous to anyone other than Floyd,” Cahill wrote in his ruling.

Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, declined to comment.

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