A Minnesota judge has dropped a third-degree murder charge against a former Minneapolis police officer charged in the May 25 death of George Floyd.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who was videotaped with his knee pressed against Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, still faces the more serious charge of second-degree murder as well as a manslaughter charge.
The ruling by Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill was made public Thursday.
Cahill also ruled that cases against three other former officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, for aiding and abetting, could go forward despite defense attorneys requesting the charges be dismissed.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is heading up the prosecution, played down the move.
"The court has sustained eight out of nine charges against the defendants in the murder of George Floyd, including the most serious charges against all four defendants," Ellison said in a statement shortly after Cahill's ruling, according to NBC.
The officers were reportedly attempting to arrest Floyd for allegedly using counterfeit money at a nearby store.
Floyd, who was handcuffed, repeatedly said he could not breathe. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The incident sparked widespread protests and violence in that quickly spread around the country. Floyd was African American.
Chauvin posted $1 million bail earlier this month. The other officers posted bail earlier.
The trial for the officers could begin in March 2021. It's expected that later this month, the judge involved will announce details about where the trial will be held.
Attorneys for Chauvin have argued the cause of Floyd's death was a high level of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system. Floyd also reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.