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Judge drops 1 charge against Minneapolis cop accused of killing George Floyd

Four officers charged in the death of George Floyd (Clockwise: Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thou and Thomas Lane. (Photo source: Hennepin County Sheriffs Department)

A Minnesota judge dropped a lower-level murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the man who pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes before he died.

However, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill stated he will keep the remaining two charges on the books against Chauvin: one count of second-degree unintentional murder and one count of second-degree manslaughter.

As rolling out previously reported, Chauvin was granted a $1 million bail on Oct. 7, 2020, and was allowed to leave the state due to the threats on his life until the upcoming trial.

The judge’s announcement prompted Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey to activate the National Guard “out of an abundance of caution and for the sake of preparedness,” Frey told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 

The newspaper reports that the judge was following a Minnesota Supreme Court precedent in dismissing the lower-level third-degree murder charge. Third-degree murder can only be charged if the perpetrator of the crime is committing an act that is inherently dangerous to others. Since no one else was in harm’s way, the charge was dropped as was requested by legal experts in the state.

“It was an inappropriate charge from the get-go, and it raised a lot of concerns for us as a community law firm about why that charge was brought,” said Sarah Davis, executive director of the Legal Rights Center. “It really points to what the community has been saying all along about this prosecution, which is that it truly needs to be truly independent from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.”