Prosecutors have now charged all four officers involved in the arrest and death of George Floyd’s death.
Derek Chauvin’s – the former officer who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, charges were expanded this week to include the more serious one of second-degree murder.
This was added to charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The other three officers — Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd, and Tou Thao, who stood nearby — are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Second-degree murder and aiding and abetting that crime carry a maximum penalty of 40 years, while the maximum is 25 years for a third-degree murder conviction.
A manslaughter conviction carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, as does aiding and abetting manslaughter.
Prosecutors have to show that Chauvin carried out “an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind,” without intent to kill, but without regard for life to prove a third-degree murder.
With a second-degree murder charge, prosecutors would have to prove the intention to kill or that the person caused a death while committing another felony crime.
Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Attorney General intends to prove what is known as “felony murder.”
In videos, Floyd can be heard saying he can’t breathe, and “They’re going to kill me, man,” and “Don’t kill me.”
In one video, Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s throat for two minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd became unresponsive.
Leaving the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin is a fallback. If Chauvin isn’t convicted on the second-degree charge, he could still be convicted of the lesser one.
The charges of aiding and abetting against the other three officers are just as serious in Minnesota
For the other three officers, prosecutors need to prove that they “knowingly assisted Chauvin, even in some small way.”
All four former officers are being held on bail of $1 million each.