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The charge of third-degree murder against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, seen earlier this year on video pinning George Floyd to the pavement for nearly nine minutes, has been thrown out, reports said Thursday.
The third-degree murder charge was dismissed by Hennepin County Judge Peter A. Cahill, though he denied another motion by Chauvin’s defense team. The former police officer remains charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.
In addition, Cahill would not dismiss charges against three other former officers who were on the scene when Chauvin kept Floyd pinned by the neck while handcuffed before he eventually died in custody.
For more context on the charges Chauvin faces — 2nd degree murder is the traditional intentional murder charge used, and 2nd-degree manslaughter is the most common charge used against officers in deadly use of force. 3rd degree murder is a rarely-used, strange statute in MN…
— Lou Raguse (@LouRaguse) October 22, 2020
Former officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane all are still charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s death in an incident that sparked mass rioting in Minneapolis that spread to urban centers around the country.
The chaos and unrest have continued throughout the summer and into fall, often exacerbated by other police-involved deaths of black men at various points.
Rioting and violence that now seems unrelated to the Floyd-inspired social justice movement in places like Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., have also continued almost non-stop, where militant Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters target local police and federal facilities.
The four officers were fired the same day as their fatal encounter with Floyd, May 25.
The officers were responding to a call from a shop owner who said that Floyd had allegedly attempted to pass a phony $20 billion. Officers found Floyd in a vehicle at the scene and ordered him to get out.
Footage from Lane’s body cam published in August shows him approaching Floyd’s vehicle and rapping on the driver’s side window with a flashlight. Lane then opened the door and told Floyd a number of times to show his hands, though Floyd does not fully comply, leading Lane to pull out his firearm.
Floyd told Lane that he didn’t do anything and begins to sob. After he was told to step out of the vehicle, Floyd said, “Please, don’t shoot me,” which he repeated a number of times.
Lane assures him that he wasn’t going to shoot and holster’s his firearm as Floyd exits the vehicle.
A postmortem toxicology report showed that Floyd had drugs in his system including fentanyl and methamphetamine, as well as marijuana.
Eventually, Floyd tells officers to put him on the ground because he doesn’t want to get into the back of a patrol car, though he did — while continuing to protest and complain that he can’t breathe.
“I want to lay on the ground!” Floyd can be heard telling officers several times.
A few moments later, Floyd is on the ground and someone can be heard telling him that he’s going to have a heart attack.
“I know, I can’t breathe,” he responded as officers, including Chauvin, kneel on him.
It’s at this point where the most compelling footage of the encounter that went viral on social media began.
Minneapolis city council members would eventually vote to begin defunding the police department. Crime has surged in the city since the Floyd incident.
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