MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals decided on Friday that the trial judge in the Derek Chauvin case erred in not reinstating the third-degree murder charge against the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd.
This sets the stage for Chauvin to face an additional murder charge in his trial, which is slated to start next week with jury selection. It’s yet unknown if Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill will immediately move to reinstate the third-degree murder charge per the appellate court’s ruling or wait to hear additional arguments from Chauvin’s defense team.
This development could result in a delay in the trial. Jury selection is currently scheduled to start on Monday.
Big win for Prosecution in Derek Chauvin murder trial in #GeorgeFloyd case as MN Appeals Court overrules trial Judge saying another murder charge , 3rd degree murder could be filed against Chauvin. Legal maneuvering could still delay Mon jury selection start @wcco will update pic.twitter.com/dpV3UCCPDI
— esme murphy (@esmemurphy) March 5, 2021
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is prosecuting the case, released a statement following the appeals court decision, saying that the three-judge panel made the right choice.
“Adding this charge is an important step forward in the path toward justice,” Ellison said. “We look forward to presenting all charges to the jury in Hennepin County.”
Chauvin, accused of killing Floyd last May, is also facing counts of second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter. Initially, Chauvin had been charged with a count of third-degree murder, but Cahill dropped the charge last fall, citing lack of probable cause.
In its decision Friday, the appeals court wrote that Cahill erred by not following the precedent set in the case of Mohamed Noor, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of third-degree murder in the 2017 shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Noor fatally shot the 40-year-old Australian native after being startled in a south Minneapolis alley. Damond had called police after believing she heard a sexual assault behind her home.
Last month, the appeals court upheld Noor’s conviction, which prompted the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office to appeal Cahill’s decision to drop the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin. Friday’s decision sent the case back to Cahill for a new ruling that’s consistent with the precedent in the Noor case.
Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25 after being arrested outside a south Minneapolis convenience store. Bystander video of the fatal arrest showed Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes while Floyd was handcuffed, repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe.
Floyd’s death sparked protests and riots in the Twin Cities, as well as a nationwide reckoning with racial inequity and police brutality.
Three other former Minneapolis police officers are also charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Their trial is scheduled for later this summer.
This is a developing story. Check back for more.