State asks to reinstate 3rd-degree murder charge in George Floyd death

Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao. J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane. The four former Minneapolis police officers are charged in the death of George Floyd. (FOX 9 / FOX 9)

The state is looking to reinstate the third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, as well as add the same charge against the other three ex-officers connected to the death of George Floyd.

Prosecutors, led by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, filed the motion in Hennepin County District Court Thursday. This effort comes after the Minnesota Court of Appeals decided to uphold the third-degree murder conviction against former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in the 2017 shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

In October, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill dismissed the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, determining under the statute the charge could only be used in situations where the defendant's actions "were not specifically directed at the particular person whose death occurred."

The state argues the Court of Appeals reached the opposite conclusion in the Noor ruling earlier this week. The decision stated the third-degree murder conviction may be upheld "even if the death-causing act was directed at a single person."

Prosecutors say the Noor ruling now creates precedence and "provides this Court with clear guidance regarding the elements of third-degree murder".

In the motion, the state acknowledges the addition of this charge could delay Chauvin's trial, which is scheduled to start on March 8, if deemed necessary. In recent weeks, prosecutors have pushed to rejoin Chauvin's trial with the other three former officers and hold it later this summer due to COVID-19 concerns. That issue is under consideration by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Former officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are all charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. All four officers were fired the day after Floyd’s death.