MINNEAPOLIS, MN—On Friday, May 29, Hennepin County Attorney General Mike Freeman announced that former police officer Derek Chauvin would be charged with the murder of George Floyd.
Chauvin has been charged with 3rd degree murder. Rivers Lawyers, a law firm based in Minnesota, states that “third-degree murder in Minnesota involves killing another person without premeditation and intent, through inherently dangerous acts, and with no regard for human life. “Inherently dangerous acts” may be direct or indirect.”
The official complaint filed against Chauvin states that he “caused the death of George Floyd by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.”
The maximum penalty for such a charge is 25 years in prison.
Chauvin has also been charged with 2nd degree manslaughter, defined in the complaint as “culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk.” The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison and/or $20,000.
Freeman said that “there may be subsequent charges later.”
According to the complaint, Chauvin “had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total. Two minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Mr. Floyd was non-responsive. Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous.”
The preliminary findings of an autopsy conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner apparently show “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
The complainant is Michelle M Frascone and the prosecuting attorney is Amy Sweasy.
Floyd’s family and their attorney Benjamin Crump released a statement in response to this development.
Freeman said that the case has moved with “extraordinary speed.” He claims that “we have never charged a case in that kind of timeframe.” He later clarified that he was referring to cases against police officers.
On Thursday, May 28, Freeman stated that it would take time for Chauvin to be charged. When a reporter asked him what had changed, he said “we have now been able to put together the evidence that we need. Even as late as yesterday afternoon we didn’t have all that we needed. We have now found it and we felt a responsibility to charge him as soon as possible.”
A new movement has begun on social media in response to the charges, generally referred to as “RAISETHEDEGREE.” It has garnered over 425,000 posts on Twitter alone, all calling for the degree of the murder charge to be raised to a 1st or 2nd. This is primarily because 3rd degree murders are generally classified as “accidental,” and protestors believe that Floyd’s killing was intentional.
Freeman “anticipates” charges against the three other officers involved but will not “speculate” about them now. All three are under investigation.