Having delayed the start of the trial of Derek Chauvin, a judge on Thursday granted prosecutors' request to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against the former Minneapolis police officer accused for the death of George Floyd.
Chauvin also faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter.
A third-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
As a reminder, Floyd's autopsy report showed the man, whose death set off a wave of violent street protests, many of which devolved into rioting and looting, had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death (he was also found to be COVID-19 positive). Prosecutors contend Floyd, 46, was killed by Chauvin's knee, compressed against Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes while he was handcuffed and pinned to the pavement following a struggle with Chauvin and three other officers, who will face trial later this year on charges of abetting Floyd's killing. But in Chauvin's case, the question at the heart of the decision is whether what people saw on the cellphone video of Floyd's death was a murder, or a terrible tragedy.
The autopsy findings potentially complicate the prosecution's push for a murder conviction, which is why it's hardly a surprise that prosecutors are trying to mitigate the risks of an embarrassing acquittal.
It's easy to see the future on this one. Fentanyl in Floyd's system makes a murder conviction of any kind unlikely. Riots are coming. https://t.co/8eSdU9bEyo— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) March 8, 2021
Chauvin's trial, which began with jury selection on Tuesday, will one of the most highly publicized criminal trials in recent years.
The question all the store-owners and peacefully protesting Americans are asking - will a guilty verdict for 3rd-degree murder satisfy the mob that 'justice' was done?
The courthouse has been reinforced with fencing to stop protesters from disrupting the proceedings.
Additionally, police from surrounding cities and state and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, will also be sent to help maintain order during the meat of the trial. The city of Minneapolis has paired police with firefighters to rapidly respond if riots erupt.