Former police officer Derek Chauvin is now charged with third degree murder in his trial over the death of George Floyd, which rocked the world and reignited the Black Lives Matter movement.
The one who served with the Minneapolis, United States police force for 19 years was already facing charges of second degree murder and manslaughter. Judge Peter Cahill finally agreed on Thursday to introduce this third charge, close to “willful violence resulting in death”, after refusing to do so last October.
The 44-year-old white man faces a 25-year prison sentence.
George Floyd’s family quickly welcomed the magistrate’s decision. “The trial is very painful and the family wants to mourn. We are happy that all legal avenues have been explored and that the trial can continue, ”said their lawyer, Ben Crump.
Derek Chauvin’s trial began on Tuesday with the selection of the first jurors. The substantive debate is due to start on March 29 and a verdict is expected at the end of April.
On May 25, the former police officer intervened with three colleagues to arrest George Floyd, suspected of having used a forged twenty dollar bill to buy a pack of cigarettes. The officer had knelt for nearly nine minutes on the 46-year-old African-American’s neck, handcuffed and pinned to the ground.
In front of frightened passers-by, Floyd had launched twenty times “I can not breathe” before passing out. His death was pronounced a little later.
Derek Chauvin’s lawyer believes that his client is not responsible for the death of the forty-something. The latter would have succumbed, according to him, to an overdose of fentanyl.
George Floyd’s death sparked historic anger in the United States and around the world against racism, systemic discrimination and police brutality.