The Minnesota Supreme Court denied a petition to review a state appellate court decision that would allow a third-degree murder charge to be reinstated against the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd.
The former officer, Derek Chauvin, was challenging a Court of Appeals decision that indicated it was an appropriate charge.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill announced the development in court Wednesday afternoon. He said he would address the matter Thursday morning.
Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes, is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Chauvin and the other three officers who were at the scene were fired. The three officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. They are expected to go to trial in August.
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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said the state Supreme Court was right to decline the petition.
“The Court of Appeals ruled correctly; therefore, there was no need for the Supreme Court to intervene,” he said in a statement. “We believe the charge of 3rd-degree murder is fair and appropriate.”
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Floyd’s family, also welcomed the development Wednesday, saying in a statement that the trial is very painful and the family needs closure.
“We’re gratified that the judge cleared the way for the trial to proceed and for Chauvin to face this additional charge,” Crump said. “We’re pleased that all judicial avenues are being explored and that the trial will move forward.”
Floyd’s family sued the city last summer and the four officers accused in his death.
On Friday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals said Cahill erred when he rejected prosecutors’ request to add a third-degree murder charge in October.
The three-judge panel said Cahill should have followed the precedent the appeals court set last month when it affirmed the third-degree murder conviction of Mohamed Noor, a former police officer, in the 2017 shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an Australian woman who had called 911 to report hearing a possible sexual assault happening.
Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, appealed the ruling this week to the Minnesota Supreme Court, while prosecutors had argued Monday that the trial should be suspended until the matter was resolved. Jury selection began Tuesday morning.
Five jurors have been seated — three white men, a woman of color and a Black man. Twelve jurors will be seated, along with two alternates.