Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and became still. His death sparked protests in Minneapolis and beyond, leading to an assessment of race issues and police use of force.
All four officers were fired.
A second degree murder charge carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison, which is 15 years more than the maximum sentence for a third degree murder charge.
Prosecutors argued that there were probable reasons for officers to go to trial on all charges, claiming that Chauvin intentionally assaulted Floyd, which is an element of the second degree murder charge, and that the other agents had helped.
Prosecution and defense differ over role of drug use
The entire time Floyd was grounded, “the officers remained in the same position: Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, Kueng and Lane remained on Floyd’s back and legs, and Thao continued to prevent the crowd of concerned citizens from interceding, “prosecutors said.
Police ignored Floyd’s calls to stop, screams from the affected crowd and their own training, prosecutors said.
WATCH | Floyd’s family bring a civil action:
Defense lawyers had argued that there were not enough probable grounds to indict the former officers. Chauvin’s attorney said his client had no intention of assaulting or killing Floyd, while attorneys for the other agents argued that their clients did not intend or conspire to help Chauvin.
The defense also argued that Floyd’s drug use was a factor in his death, with Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson saying Floyd likely died of “fentanyl or a combination of fentanyl and methamphetamine in concert. with its underlying health issues. ”
The county medical examiner called Floyd’s death a homicide, his heart stopping as he was restrained by police and his neck compressed. A summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other important conditions”, but not under “cause of death”.
BREAKING: Judge upholds murder charges against Derek Chauvin and other officers. Important step towards justice for George Floyd.
According to prosecutors’ notes, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker told prosecutors that in the absence of other apparent causes of death, it “may be acceptable” to declare the death as an overdose, in depending on the level of fentanyl in Floyd’s system. A separate autopsy ordered for Floyd’s family concluded that he died of asphyxiation due to compression of his neck and back.
The officers in the case as well as the city of Minneapolis are also facing a civil lawsuit over Floyd’s death for “compensatory, special and punitive damages.”