Things That Matter

Hennepin County Judge Drops Third-Degree Murder Charge Against Derek Chauvin

Update October 22, 2020

A judge dropped the lesser third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill dropped third-degree murder charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was videotaped kneeling on Floyd’s neck while grinning as Floyd died. The judge upheld two other charges against Chauvin, included second-degree murder. If convicted on the second-degree murder charge, Chauvin faces a possible 55 years in prison.

“It was an inappropriate charge from the get-go, and it raised a lot of concerns for us as a community law firm about why that charge was brought,” Sarah Davis, executive director of the Legal Rights Center, told the Minneapolis StarTribune. “It really points to what the community has been saying all along about this prosecution, which is that it truly needs to be truly independent from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.”

Original: It’s been more than two months since the tragic death of George Floyd. Since his death, the country has been struggling on how to cope with yet another senseless loss of a Black man at the hands of police officers. Massive protests have taken place in nearly every corner of the country – or globe for that matter.

Yet, two months after his death we continue to learn new heartbreaking details about the circumstances of his last moments. Newly released body-cam footage, obtained by the Daily Mail show in greater detail the moments leading up to the now infamous video of Officer Chauvin’s knee pressed into George Floyd’s neck. In the leaked footage, we see officers approach a man who was no threat with their guns drawn. We see a panicked Floyd beg officers not to shoot him.

New body-cam footage offers amother perspective into Floyd’s arrest and death.

Newly released, partial footage obtained by the Daily Mail from the body cameras worn by two of the now-former Minneapolis police officers involved in the arrest and death of George Floyd, show a panicked man begging for mercy. The footage reveals in greater detail the events surrounding the horrific arrest that led to Floyd’s death.

The eight-minute video starts with the officers approaching Floyd as he sat in his car, and ordering him to put up his hands. Floyd appears nervous and is immediately apologetic, but doesn’t initially follow their instructions to show his hands. In response, Lane pulls out his handgun and aims it at Floyd. Floyd complies, putting his hands on the wheel and tells the officer he’s sorry and asks what he’s done wrong.

Later in the video, following a struggle in the back of a police car, Officer Thomas Lane can be heard asking Officer Derek Chauvin whether Floyd should be rolled on his side. Floyd died May 25 while in custody, and the incident — which was also recorded on cell phone video — set off protests that soon went worldwide. The demonstrations over his killing and the deaths of other African Americans at the hands of police prompted intense discussions on racism in America.

The footage includes officer Thomas Lane, who at one point aims a gun at Floyd’s face – Floyd begs him not to shoot.

Credit: Karem Yucel / Getty Images

In the video, footage shows police first approach Floyd’s car and asks him to put his hands on the steering wheel. Floyd doesn’t comply with the officer’s demands until Officer Lane draws his gun.

Floyd begs the officer not to shoot, “Please don’t shoot me Mr. Officer,” Floyd says. Lane then gets Floyd to come out of the car and puts him in handcuffs. Officer Kueng can be heard telling Floyd “stop resisting.” 

Lane then begins interviewing a man and woman who were with Floyd in the car. “Why is he getting all squirrely and not showing us his hands?” Lane asks the two. “Because he’s been shot before,” a woman, who identifies herself as Floyd’s ex, tells the officer. 

“He’s a good guy,” the male passenger adds. 

The video then cuts to the two officers leading Floyd to their SUV. As they try to get him to sit in the back of the car, Floyd appears to grow desperate.

Floyd’s family has issued a statement about the newly released footage.

Credit: Dawn Shawnee / Getty Images

Ben Crump, an attorney for the Floyd family, issued a statement to CNN in response to the video’s release:

“The police officers approached him with guns drawn, simply because he was a Black man. As this video shows, he never posed any threat. The officers’ contradictions continue to build. If not for the videos, the world might never have known about the wrongs committed against George Floyd.”

All four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired from the department the following day, and have all been charged in connection to his death. 

Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, while the three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

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