3rd-degree murder charge reinstated against George Floyd's killer
A third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who killed African-American man George Floyd under custody last year, has been reinstated, as the trial's start date neared.
Chauvin, who was filmed pressing his knee on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes leading to the latter's death on May 25, 2020, is already charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, reports Xinhua news agency.
He was initially charged with third-degree murder days after Floyd's death, but Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill dismissed the count in October 2020, saying it did not apply to the circumstances of the case.
The state of Minnesota appealed Cahill's ruling on March 5 and asked him to reconsider the motion to reinstate the third-degree murder charge.
Cahill did so Thursday after the Minnesota Supreme Court decided the previous day not to take up an appeal from Chauvin against the charge.
According to Minnesota law, the maximum sentence for second-degree murder is 40 years, and 25 years for third-degree murder.
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is now scheduled for March 29, after the selection of the jury was delayed and ultimately began on Tuesday.
The three other former officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, who were on the scene also face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Their trial is expected to begin in August.
Floyd's death was ruled a homicide, with the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's autopsy report revealing he died from "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression".
Floyd's death triggered last year's massive protests against racial inequality and police brutality, across many US cities and also internationally.
The incident followed the high-profile cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York; and others that have driven the Black Lives Matter movement in recent years.