Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder following Floyd’s death, which was captured on video as the former officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. The third-degree murder charge is in addition to other murder charges Chauvin is facing, including second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. The news comes as the jury selection for his trial began on Tuesday.
The trial is expected to start on March 29, but it’s currently not clear if the third-degree charge will impact that start date. Minnesota state appealed that ruling, and last week ordered Cahill to consider reinstating the charge. The maximum sentence for third-degree murder in Minnesota is 25 years, while it’s 40 years for second-degree murder. The charge was first dismissed by Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill, who said it did not apply to the case.
Appellate court Judge Michelle Larkin argued that the sentencing of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who fatally shot Justine Damond from his squad car in 2017, set a precedent for third-degree murder charges in the state. Larkin wrote, "We therefore reverse the district court's order and remand for the district court to reconsider the state's motion to reinstate the third-degree murder charge in light of this court's precedential opinion in Noor."
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who filed the motion, told CNN, "We believe the Court of Appeals decided this matter correctly. We believe the charge of 3rd-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin."
A representative for Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who represents the family of Floyd, told Complex, “We're gratified that the judge cleared the way for the trial to proceed and for Chauvin to face this additional charge. The trial is very painful and the family needs closure. We're pleased that all judicial avenues are being explored and that the trial will move forward."