Derek Chauvin charged with second-degree murder

Sonali Carumbaya, Amadon EIC

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced that Derek Chauvin’s charges have been upgraded to include second-degree murder. In addition, the three other officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest have been charged.

After Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin suffocated George Floyd for over eight minutes, he was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. His fellow officers were simply fired.

A protestor holds up a sign featuring the quote “I can’t breathe…please stop.” Those were George Floyd’s last words. (Emily Harris (’21))

Many found these punishments appalling; four policemen watched a man suffocate and die, yet three of them weren’t held accountable.

People were also outraged and frustrated by Chauvin’s inadequate charge. He pressed his knee against a man’s neck for almost nine minutes. His victim was clearly struggling to breathe, but Chauvin ignored any desperate pleas or gasps for air.

A third-degree murder is characterized by unintended killing that is not premeditated. In Minnesota, it entails a fine of $40,000 and/or a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.

Second-degree manslaughter is committed when the defendant makes a conscious decision to risk another’s life.

Both third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter imply that the killing is not intentional. However, the video depicting Floyd’s death led millions of Americans to believe otherwise.

Second-degree murder seemed to better fit the crime; it is when someone is killed intentionally, but without premeditation. Minnesota statutes reveal that someone convicted of second-degree murder could face up to 40 years in prison.

However, it’s difficult to get a conviction for second degree murder, which is why incidents involving police brutality are often mischarged.

To add second-degree murder to Chauvin’s charges, district attorneys had to prove that he intentionally killed Floyd. They had to distinguish purposeful killing from an unintended consequence.

This case received massive support, though. In just a few days, phone lines of Minnesota officials (governor, district attorneys, etc.) were flooded with calls demanding more severe accountability for Chauvin and his fellow officers.

The formal accusations were officially updated Wednesday afternoon: Derek Chauvin is now responsible for second-degree murder, and the three other officers have been charged for aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.