In this image taken from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, right, listen to Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill during pretrial motions, prior to continuing jury selection in the trial of Chauvin, Thursday, March 11, 2021. (Court TV/Pool via Pool)

In this image taken from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, right, listen to Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill during pretrial motions, prior to continuing jury selection in the trial of Chauvin, Thursday, March 11, 2021. (Court TV/Pool via Pool)

Judge OKs 3rd-degree murder charge for ex-cop in George’s Floyd death

Former officer Derek Chauvin was already facing second-degree murder, manslaughter charges

A judge on Thursday granted prosecutors’ request to add a third-degree murder count against a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death, offering jurors an additional option for conviction and resolving an issue that might have delayed his trial for months.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill reinstated the charge after the former officer, Derek Chauvin, failed to get appellate courts to block it. Cahill had earlier rejected the charge as not warranted by the circumstances of Floyd’s death, but an appellate court ruling in an unrelated case established new grounds.

Chauvin already faced second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. Legal experts say the additional charge helps prosecutors by giving jurors another option to find Chauvin guilty of murder.

The dispute over the third-degree murder charge revolved around wording in the law that references an act “eminently dangerous to others.” Cahill’s initial decision to dismiss the charge had noted that Chauvin’s conduct might be construed as not dangerous to anyone but Floyd.

But prosecutors sought to revive the charge after the state’s Court of Appeals recently upheld the third-degree murder conviction of another former Minneapolis police officer in the 2017 killing of an Australian woman. They argued that the ruling established precedent that the charge could be brought even in a case where only a single person is endangered.

READ MORE: Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

READ MORE: George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure, autopsy reveals

Arguments over when precedent from former officer Mohamed Noor’s case took effect went swiftly to the state’s Supreme Court, which on Wednesday said it would not consider Chauvin’s appeal of the matter. Cahill said Thursday that he accepts that precedent is clearly established.

“I feel bound by that and I feel it would be an abuse of discretion not to grant the motion,” he said.

Floyd was declared dead on May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against the Black man’s neck for about nine minutes. Floyd’s death sparked sometimes violent protests in Minneapolis and beyond, leading to a nationwide reckoning on race.

Jury selection resumed Thursday for the third day with a sixth person chosen, a man who described himself as an outgoing soccer fan for whom the prospect of the trial was “kind of exciting.” The pool so far includes five men and one woman. One man is white, but the others’ racial backgrounds have not been disclosed in court.

Two other candidates were dismissed Thursday: a woman who said she “can’t unsee the video” of Chauvin pinning Floyd, and a man who said he has doubts about Black Lives Matter and the way the group pursues its goals.

At least three weeks have been set aside to complete a jury of 12 plus two alternates. Potential jurors’ identities are being protected and they are not shown on livestreamed video of the proceedings.

Chauvin and three other officers were fired. The others face an August trial on aiding and abetting charges. The defence hasn’t said whether Chauvin will testify in his own defence.

READ MORE: ‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

United States

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Vernon’s BX Elementary School. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Second COVID case confirmed at Vernon elementary school

Exposure at BX Elementary happened April 6 and 7

Highway 97 being converted to four lanes in April 1990. This photo taken in Lake Country. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Photo #14025)
HISTORY: How the old Highway 97 in Lake Country got new name

Pelmewash Parkway recognizes the First Nations history in Lake Country

Salmon Arm Silverbacks defenceman Kieran Ruscheinski (right) sticks close to Vernon Vipers forward Logan Lorenz during Salmon Arm’s 2-1 overtime win in B.C. Hockey League pod play Saturday, April 10, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Mack attack paces Salmon Arm Silverbacks past Vernon

Sullivan Mack scores both goals, including beautiful OT winner, in Gorillas’ 2-1 BCHL pod play win over Snakes

Paddlewheel Park off Okanagan Landing Road, Vernon. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looks to address parking shortage at Paddlewheel Park

City staff are looking into short, medium and long-term overflow parking options

(GVMA)
WATCH: A Royal procession through Vernon, 1959

Prince Philip, who died April 9 at 99, visited Vernon on a tour of Canada in 1959

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Flight with COVID
Another Kelowna flight with COVID-19 exposure

Westjet flight on April 5 from Kelowna to Edmonton

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read