Judge dismisses 1 charge against Derek Chauvin, more serious charges remain

The judge denied the majority of the motions to dismiss the charges against the four officers accused in George Floyd's death.
Lane kueng thao chauvin

A Hennepin County judge has denied motions to dismiss the charges against the former Minneapolis police officers accused in George Floyd's death, except for a lesser murder charge against Derek Chauvin. 

Judge Peter Cahill, in a 107-page order filed Wednesday, denied the motions to dismiss the charges against Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who are each charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter, while denying part of Chauvin's motion. 

Cahill said the motion to dismiss the charge of third-degree murder is granted and the charge is dismissed. However, the charges of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder still stand. 

In his order, Cahill wrote:

"Because a third-degree murder charge can be sustained only in situations in which the defendant's actions were 'eminently dangerous to other person' and were not specifically directed at the particular person whose death occurred, this is not an appropriate case for a third-degree murder charge."

The state has five days to appeal the ruling.

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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is leading the prosecution of the cases, commented on the judge's ruling:

“The court has sustained eight out of nine charges against the defendants in the murder of George Floyd, including the most serious charges against all four defendants. This means that all four defendants will stand trial for murder and manslaughter, both in the second degree. This is an important, positive step forward in the path toward justice for George Floyd, his family, our community, and Minnesota. We look forward to presenting the prosecution’s case to a jury in Hennepin County.

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

Gov. Tim Walz also tweeted about it Thursday morning, saying: "Judge upholds murder charges against Derek Chauvin and other officers. Important step toward justice for George Floyd."

Chauvin, who was captured on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter four days after Floyd was killed outside of Cup Foods near 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis on May 25. An employee apparently called police to report that Floyd tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.

In early June, after Ellison took over the prosecution of the case, Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and the other three former officers were charged with aiding and abetting Floyd's killing.

All four former officers are out on bond or bail while they await trial, which is currently scheduled to begin on March 8. That could change though – Judge Cahill is still expected to rule on other motions, including moving the trial out of Hennepin County and whether they should be tried together or separately.

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