Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing unarmed Black man George Floyd, is facing an additional murder charge for the May, 25, 2020, incident.
On Thursday, a Hennepin County judge reinstated Chauvin’s third-degree murder charge, months after the count was dismissed in October.
Additionally, Chauvin faces charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter after he was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck. He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
"The charge of 3rd-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin," Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement. "We look forward to presenting all three charges to the jury."
Months after Chauvin’s third-degree murder charge was dismissed in October, the state filed an appeal in February.
On Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court refused a request by Chauvin's attorney to block the appellate court's decision to reconsider reinstating the charge.
The next day, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill officially reinstated the charge, citing the case of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who, in June 2019, was sentenced to 12½ years in prison for the fatal shooting of a woman while responding to her 911 call.
Cahill added that the third-degree murder charge only applied to Chauvin and that the potential to reinstate the charge for the three other officers charged in Floyd's death — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — will be addressed at a later date. These three officers are currently charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
"This charge has not come out of left field," Cahill said Thursday. "It was originally charged. I think the defense has been aware that the state will take every opportunity to try and add it back."
Per the Associated Press last October, prosecutors argue that Chauvin intentionally assaulted Floyd and that the other officers assisted.
However, Chauvin’s attorney says his client had no intent to assault or kill Floyd. The attorneys for the other officers claim their clients did not intend or conspire to help Chauvin.
If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.