Charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd have been upgraded after public outcry about the leniency of the original charges filed four days after the May 25 incident occurred and after several nights of violent protests in the Midwestern city.
On Wednesday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded the charges against Chauvin, 44, to include second-degree murder. Chauvin is accused of kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman originally charged Chauvin with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on May 29.
Here are definitions of those charges:
Second-degree murder: According to the Minnesota statute, whoever causes the death of a human being, without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence or a drive-by shooting” is guilty of murder in the second degree.
Someone found guilty faces a prison sentence of no more than 40 years.
Third-degree murder: According to the Minnesota statute, whoever causes the death of a person “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree.”
Someone found guilty faces a prison sentence of no more than 25 years or a fine of no more than $40,000, or both.
Second-degree manslaughter: According to the Minnesota statute, when someone “creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another” is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree.
Someone found guilty may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 10 years or required to pay a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.
Also on Wednesday, Ellison charged the other three officers at the scene of Floyd’s death with aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony, and with aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence. Both charges are categorized as “unintentional” felonies.
The three other officers are: Tou Thao, 34, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Thomas K. Lane, 37. All three were fired along with Chauvin from the Minneapolis police department on Tuesday.