In the opening of the trial against Derek Chauvin, prosecutors accused the ex-Minneapolis officer of using unreasonable force “without regard” that led to the death of George Floyd.
On May 25, 2020, Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for around 9 minutes and 30 seconds after the suspect was handcuffed and lying face down on the road.
In a video that captured the event, Floyd could be heard repeatedly claiming he was unable to breathe and became more distressed as Chauvin continued to hold his knee firmly on the back of Floyd’s neck.
Later that day, Floyd was pronounced dead at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Chauvin now faces three charges, those being second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder. He also faces a lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter.
Here is all you need to know about the charges:
Second-degree unintentional murder
The most serious charge against Chauvin carries a prison sentence of up to 40 years. Although, according to Minnesota sentencing guidelines state a sentence between 10 years and nine months to 15 years could be recommended.
In order to gain a guilty conviction, Minnesota legislature states prosecutors must prove Chauvin caused Floyd’s death, “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 for or violence or a drive-by shooting.”
It continued: “Or 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 designation to receive protection under the order.”
As stated in Minnesota state legislature, prosecutors will not have to prove Chauvin intended to kill Floyd.
Chauvin will also face an additional murder charge after it was reinstated and offers prosecutors another pathway to conviction in the high-profile case.
According to CNN, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said earlier this month: “The charge of third-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr Chauvin. We look forward to presenting all three charges to the jury.”
Minnesota statutes said a person found guilty of third-degree murder faces upwards of 25 years imprisonment.
A person is found guilty of third-degree murder if “whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evidencing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.”
In 2019, ex-Minnesota police officer Mohamed Noor was convicted of third-degree murder over the death of Justine Damond.
Damond had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in progress in the alley near her home but was shot by Noor who fired through the open window of the police car.
Noor was sentenced to 12 years and six months imprisonment in June 2019 and, so far, is the only Minnesota officer to be convicted of murder while on duty.
To convict Chauvin of second-degree manslaughter prosecutors will need to prove the former officer caused Floyd’s death by “culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.”
Minnesota state legislature said a 10-year sentence, a fine of no more than $20,000 or both is proportionate. However, state sentencing guidelines also recommend a presumptive sentence of between 41 to 57 months imprisonment.
The trial against Chauvin continues.