Prosecutors ask appeals court to allow 3rd-degree murder charge against former MPD officers in Floyd's death

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: February 23, 2021 05:34 PM
Created: February 23, 2021 10:21 AM

Prosecutors are asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to allow them to add third-degree murder charges against the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd's death.

The appeal brief, filed Monday, comes after Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill — who will preside over the trial of Derek Chauvin and a later one for Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng — denied prosecutors' motion to add third-degree murder charges against the defendants earlier this month.

Judge denies motion to reinstate 3rd-degree murder charge for Chauvin, add charges for other 3 officers

Prosecutors' motion to add the murder charge came following a ruling by the state appeals court that upheld a third-degree murder conviction against another former Minneapolis police officer, Mohamed Noor, who was convicted in the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017.

In his decision, Cahill wrote that precedential status in Noor's case isn't final until the window for a petition for review closes or until the Minnesota Supreme Court denies a petition for review from Noor's defense. That petition window wouldn't close until March 3, and if the Supreme Court grants a review, the Noor case would not gain precedential status.

But prosecutors argue that Cahill overstepped his authority and should've followed the appeals court's ruling regarding Noor's case unless and until the Minnesota Supreme Court reverses it.

Meanwhile, Chauvin's attorneys have asked the Court of Appeals to not allow a third-degree murder charge to be reinstated against Chauvin, saying it'd be too close to the beginning of his trial.

The appeals court said Tuesday that it will hear arguments from both sides regarding the third-degree murder charge on March 1, as it pertains to Chauvin's case. Arguments over third-degree murder for the other three officers will be heard by the court at a later time.

In a statement regarding the Court of Appeals ruling, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said, "I'm gratified the Court will hear our appeal. The Court of Appeals has already decided in a separate case that the third-degree murder charge is appropriate. Accordingly, we believe the interests of justice are served by reinstating the third-degree murder charge against defendant Derek Chauvin and believe the jury should hear that charge. We look forward to presenting our case to the Court."

On Tuesday, Cahill also issued a protective order in the case for "federal investigative materials." 

Chauvin's trial is set to begin on March 8 while the trial for the other three defendants is scheduled for Aug. 23.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, who had no comment on state’s appeal to higher court on a third-degree murder charge.


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