Hennepin County Judge Peter A. Cahill granted part of the defense’s motion and dropped the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin.
Cahill also rejected actions to drop the charges against the other three officers present when Chauvin was caught on video pressing his knee onto a handcuffed Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes before his death in custody.
Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane remain charged with aiding and abetting related to the incident that caused nationwide protests on racial injustice.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, responded to the decision on Twitter, saying the judge’s move to maintain the remaining charges against Chauvin, as well as the charges against the other officers, was an “important step toward justice for George Floyd.”
Eric Nelson, the defense attorney representing Chauvin, refused to comment.
Prosecutors claimed there was presumably cause for the officers to go to trial on all of the charges, saying Chauvin intentionally assaulted Floyd, which is a part of the second-degree murder assessment, and that the other officers aided. Defense attorneys had argued that there was not enough probable cause to impose the former officers.
Chauvin's attorney argued his client had no intent to assault or kill Floyd, while attorneys for the other officers claimed that their clients did not plan or conspire to help Chauvin.
According to his note, Cahill discovered probable cause based on the factual background of the case. Evidence showed how the manager of Cup Foods in Minneapolis called police to report two men tried to use counterfeit $20 bills to purchase cigarettes on May 25.
Kueng and Lane responded to the supermarket around 8:08 p.m., and the manager said the men were across the street in a blue vehicle. Floyd was in the driver’s seat, and Lane pulled his gun, ordered Floyd out of the car, and handcuffed him. Both officers walked Floyd across the street but he refused to get into the patrol car and the officers called for backup. Chauvin and Thao arrived about 10 minutes later.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison renewed the charges against Chauvin to include second-degree murder and filed charges against the three other officers present during the occurrence. Thao, Kueng and Lane are each charged with one count of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and one count of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin was released from jail on Oct. 7 on a $1 million bail. The other three had previously posted bond amounts of $750,000 and have been freed pending trial. Currently, all four men are scheduled to face trial together in March, but the judge is considering a request to have them tried separately.