Court of Appeals rules third-degree murder charges against Derek Chauvin should be reinstated

Derek Chauvin
MN Deparment of Corrections Derek Chauvin

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that third-degree murder charges against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin should be reinstated and that Judge Peter Cahill previously erred in not reinstated the third-degree murder charge in the May 25, 2020, killing of George Floyd.

Chauvin had previously been charged with third-degree murder, but Judge Cahill dropped the charge citing lack of probable cause. But the Court of Appeals stated that the conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor set a precedent. Noor was convicted of third-degree murder in the 2017 shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond and is currently serving a 12.5-year sentence.

Chauvin was seen in bystanders’ videos with his knee on Floyd’s neck as he lay on his stomach in handcuffs for over eight minutes until he became unresponsive. The graphic video of Floyd’s last moments of life sparked international outrage, protests, and rekindled the cry for police reforms and the end to systemic racial injustice.

Chauvin’s trial was to begin jury selection on Monday, March 8, but today’s ruling may delay the start date.  The trial for the three other former officers involved in the case, Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, is scheduled to start on August 23. 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement on Friday following the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ ruling:  “We believe the Court of Appeals decided this matter correctly,” the statement read. “We believe the charge of 3rd-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin. Adding this charge is an important step forward in the path toward justice. We look forward to presenting all charges to the jury in Hennepin County.”

The MSR will continue to report on this story as it develops.