Mar 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Judge reinstates third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin

A person puts up a sign saying Justice for George Floyd Trial Day 3
A makeshift memorial for George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 10. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

A judge on Thursday granted prosecutors' request to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd.

Why it matters: A third-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Chauvin also faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter after he knelt on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes last May, resulting in the death of the 46-year-old Black man.

Background: Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill wrote last October that he dropped the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin because his actions did not put others in danger. A Minnesota appeals court reversed the ruling last week, sending it back to the trial judge.

The big picture: Floyd's killing sparked massive Black Lives Matter protests last summer that have renewed pressure on cities to scale back the force that officers can use on civilians. Chauvin's trial, which began with jury selection on Tuesday, will one of the most highly publicized criminal trials in recent years.

Between the lines: While convictions of police officers are rare, prosecutors in Minnesota won a guilty verdict based on the same charge in the 2019 trial of another former Minneapolis officer, Axios Twin Cities reporter Torey Van Oot notes.

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