MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - One of the officers involved with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has been arrested. Derek Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for Floyd's death.
The arrest has raised some questions for viewers:
What is third-degree murder?
A person commits third-degree murder when the person does not intend to kill another person but does so by acting recklessly, or “without regard for human life.”
The statute reads: “Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree.”
Some defense lawyers believe this charge has legal complexities when the reckless behavior was directed at one person.
A person guilty of third-degree murder faces up to 25 years in prison.
What is second-degree manslaughter, and how is it different from murder?
A person commits second-degree manslaughter when their negligence causes another person’s death.
Manslaughter only requires the person to create “an unreasonable risk,” while third-degree murder requires the person to act “without regard for human life."
A person guilty of second-degree manslaughter faces up to ten years in prison.
What is second-degree murder, and why isn’t Chauvin charged with it?
Second-degree murder is a more serious charge than third-degree murder, and requires the person to have intended to kill the victim.
Michael Freeman, the Hennepin County Attorney, said it is possible Chauvin could face more charges, including second-degree murder. The investigation is ongoing.
What about first-degree murder?
1st Degree Murder requires the prosecutor to prove the person premediated, or planned, to kill the victim.
The attorney for George Floyd’s family issued a statement calling for a 1st Degree Murder charge.
What charges could the other three officers involved in the death face?
The most serious charge the other three fired officers could face is aiding and abetting the murder.
“That could be giving him a tool or weapon, it could be keeping people away from interfering with that was going on,” Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor, told FOX 9.
Freeman says the investigation is ongoing and the other officers could still be charged.
Does it matter if Floyd’s cause of death was not caused by strangulation?
According to preliminary findings released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, “the autopsy revealed no physical findings” that “traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” directly caused Floyd’s death. However, the criminal complaint notes that underlying medical conditions coupled with “being restrained by the police” likely contributed to Floyd’s death.
Regardless of the report, Osler believes the cause of death still supports a murder charge.
“The fact [a victim was] weakened or had an underlaying condition at the time of their death, doesn't matter. It's still going to be murder. The fact someone is a hemophiliac and I go and stab that person and they bleed to death, I'm not innocent of murder because they were a hemophiliac,” said Osler, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. “Here, it seems pretty clear, the knee pressed to his neck was a but-for cause of his death.”
Additional information is expected from the medical examiner.