Crime, Law and Justice

After Noor ruling, prosecutors seek to reinstate third-degree murder charge against Chauvin

Motion comes three days after appeals court upheld conviction of Mohamed Noor

A man with a black mask walks out of revolving doors.
Attorney Eric Nelson, representing Derek Chauvin, leaves the Hennepin County Courthouse after a hearing in Minneapolis, Minn., on Oct. 15.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

Updated: 6:15 p.m.

Prosecutors want all four former officers charged in the killing of George Floyd to get an additional charge of third-degree murder.

The motion filed Thursday is based on a state appeals court decision earlier this week tied to the case of another former Minneapolis police officer, Mohamed Noor, who was convicted in the 2017 killing of Justine Ruszczyk. On Monday, a split Court of Appeals upheld Noor’s 2019 conviction.

Prosecutors with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office say the appeals court ruling in the Noor case makes clear that third-degree murder charges can be directed at just one person. They want Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill to reinstate third-degree murder charges against former officer Derek Chauvin. Last fall, Cahill struck that charge from the case but kept the charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Prosecutors also want the judge to allow them to amend the complaints against the other three officers to include a third-degree murder charge.

The request by prosecutors again raises the question of whether Chauvin’s trial, which is scheduled to begin next month, will start on time. Prosecutors have been arguing to push the trial off to summer, which they say would allow time for more people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 during the pandemic.

In the court document filed Thursday, prosecutors said they wouldn’t need a delay based solely on any additional charge.

“Should this Court or Chauvin disagree, however, the State would not oppose a reasonable continuance until the summer of 2021 if this Court deems a continuance necessary to allow Defendant Chauvin adequate time to prepare for trial in light of the amended complaint,” they wrote.

Jury selection in Chauvin’s trial is set to begin March 8. The trial of the other three officers, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, is scheduled for Aug. 23.