Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing trial in George Floyd’s death, could see a third-degree murder charge reinstated following a state appeals court ruling Friday.
A three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals told Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill on Friday that he broke the precedent when he rejected prosecutors’ motion to reinstate the charge against Chauvin.
The same appeals court set that precedent last month in the case against Mohamed Noor, another former officer, convicted of fatally shooting an unarmed Australian woman in 2017.
Justine Ruszczyk Damond, 40, had dual US and Australian citizenship and called 911 to report a possible rape near her home shortly before Noor mistakenly shot her in a nearby alley while answering the call.
Chauvin, who is White, also faces charges of second degree murder and manslaughter in connection with the May 25 incident.
He was videotaped pressing his knee against the neck of Floyd, a black man, for almost nine minutes.
3 FORMER POLICE OFFICERS FROM MINNEAPOLIS ACCUSED IN THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD REQUEST THE JUDGE TO DISMISS THE CASE AFTER THE ESCAPES OF AGREEMENT
The appeals court ordered Cahill to reconsider the motion, and if he reinstates the charge, the start of Chauvin’s trial could be delayed. Jury selection is supposed to start on Monday.
“We believe that the Court of Appeals decided this matter correctly,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement. “We believe that the third degree murder charge, in addition to involuntary manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the seriousness of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin. Adding this charge is an important step on the road to justice. We hope to bring all charges to the jury in Hennepin County. “
Three other former officers involved in the Floyd incident are also awaiting trial, separately from Chauvin after Cahill ruled in January that the courtroom would be too crowded amid the coronavirus pandemic. Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao face charges of complicity and murder.
All four were fired in the wake of Floyd’s death.
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The incident sparked a summer of protests across the country against police brutality and racial injustice.
Chauvin’s trial is expected to last between two and four weeks, and state and municipal leaders increased security measures before it began.
Associated Press contributed to this report.