Analysis

The Charges Facing Derek Chauvin, And What It Will Take To Convict Him

   DailyWire.com
BERLIN, GERMANY - May 30: Street art commemorating George Floyd, killed in police custody in Minneapolis after footage emerged of him pleading for air as a police officer kneeled on his neck, is seen on May 30, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. One of the four officers involved was arrested and charged with murder after three days of protests.
Adam Berry via Getty Images

Last weekend, it was reported that “Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd, has had the third-degree murder charge against him reinstated following an appeals court decision.”

“Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and [second-degree] manslaughter after video surfaced of him holding his knee to the neck of George Floyd, who eventually died in police custody. Chauvin was seen on video holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground, repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe,” the Daily Wire report continued.

What do each of the charges leveled against Derek Chauvin mean, and what will prosecutors be required to prove if they hope to achieve a guilty verdict?

Second Degree Murder

According to the Minnesota Legislature, “Murder in the Second Degree” is divided into two categories. The first is “Intentional murder; drive-by shootings,” and the second is “Unintentional murders.”

According to the first category, “Intentional murder; drive-by shootings,” “Whoever does either of the following is guilty of murder in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 40 years:”

  1. causes the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation; or
  2. causes the death of a human being while committing or attempting to commit a drive-by shooting in violation of section 609.66, subdivision 1e, under circumstances other than those described in section 609.185, paragraph (a), clause (3).

According to the second category, “Unintentional murders,” “Whoever does either of the following is guilty of unintentional murder in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 40 years:”

  1. causes the death of a human being, without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence or a drive-by shooting; or
  2. causes the death of a human being without intent to effect the death of any person, while intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon the victim, when the perpetrator is restrained under an order for protection and the victim is a person designated to receive protection under the order. As used in this clause, “order for protection” includes an order for protection issued under chapter 518B; a harassment restraining order issued under section 609.748; a court order setting conditions of pretrial release or conditions of a criminal sentence or juvenile court disposition; a restraining order issued in a marriage dissolution action; and any order issued by a court of another state or of the United States that is similar to any of these orders.

Given that George Floyd’s death was clearly not caused by a drive-by shooting, there are three remaining possible forms of second-degree murder the prosecution would be required to demonstrate:

  1. That Chauvin caused the death of George Floyd intentionally but without premeditation.
  2. That Chauvin caused the death of George Floyd without intending to kill him while “committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence.”
  3. That Chauvin caused the death of George Floyd without intending to kill him “while intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon the victim,” while Floyd was “restrained under an order for protection and the victim is a person designated to receive protection under the order.”

Third Degree Murder

According to the Minnesota Legislature, “Murder in the Third Degree” is defined as

  1. Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years.”
  2. Whoever, without intent to cause death, proximately causes the death of a human being by, directly or indirectly, unlawfully selling, giving away, bartering, delivering, exchanging, distributing, or administering a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $40,000, or both.

Assuming that Chauvin did not intentionally work to cause George Floyd’s death, and that he did not provide George Floyd with any “controlled substance” which caused his death, the prosecution will be required to demonstrate that Chauvin’s action (or actions) were “eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind,” and displayed a disregard for human life.

Second-Degree Manslaughter

According to the Minnesota Legislature definition of “Manslaughter in the Second Degree” a person who “causes the death of another by any of the following means is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both:”

  1. by the person’s culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another; or
  2. by shooting another with a firearm or other dangerous weapon as a result of negligently believing the other to be a deer or other animal; or
  3. by setting a spring gun, pit fall, deadfall, snare, or other like dangerous weapon or device; or
  4. by negligently or intentionally permitting any animal, known by the person to have vicious propensities or to have caused great or substantial bodily harm in the past, to run uncontrolled off the owner’s premises, or negligently failing to keep it properly confined; or
  5. by committing or attempting to commit a violation of section 609.378 (neglect or endangerment of a child), and murder in the first, second, or third degree is not committed thereby.

Given that George Floyd wasn’t mistaken for an animal, wasn’t trapped, wasn’t attacked by any animal “known by the person to have vicious propensities,” or killed as a result of neglect or endangerment of a child, the prosecution will be required to demonstrate that George Floyd’s death was the result of Chauvin’s culpable negligence and that Chauvin created an unreasonable risk and consciously took chances of causing death or great bodily harm.

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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