Upgrade Derek Chauvin's charges to 2nd degree murder!

Upgrade Derek Chauvin's charges to 2nd degree murder!

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Minnesota prosecutor’s charges might lead to an unjustly easy sentence for George Floyd’s killer
By filing a third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin that a judge is likely to dismiss, the county prosecutor in Minnesota is setting the stage for a miscarriage of justice.
Unless prosecutors in Minnesota file more serious charges against the police officer accused of killing George Floyd, they’re at risk of compounding public outrage by letting that former officer escape a charge of murder. Millions of us watched the Memorial Day video of the white officer, Derek Chauvin, grinding his knee into the neck of Floyd, an immobilized Black man. We saw Floyd call out for his mother and say, “I can’t breathe,” until he was beyond saving. The echoes of past extrajudicial executions and centuries of slavery and slaughter, of lynching and officially sanctioned violence, rang out across the land. It took several excruciating days before the county’s chief prosecutor, Michael Freeman, finally saw fit to file criminal charges against Chauvin, and then only for second-degree manslaughter, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison but usually resulting in a much lighter sentence, as well as something Minnesota calls third-degree murder, a crime punishable by up to 25 years but applicable only where someone unintentionally causes death by “reckless or wanton acts … without special regard to their effect on any particular person” — like shooting aimlessly into a crowd.

No one remotely familiar with Minnesota law would regard either of those charges as the right ones to bring in this case — a case where, even if intent cannot be proven, a second-degree felony murder charge, punishable by 40 years in prison, is manifestly justified. Under a quirk in Minnesota law, second-degree murder can be charged where an assault — such as the first-degree assault evident from Chauvin’s placement of his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes — unintentionally results in death.

More critically, anyone steeped in Minnesota law would recognize that the third-degree murder charge would likely be summarily dismissed for the ironic reason that Chauvin clearly aimed his acts at Floyd. Such a miscarriage of justice would surely trigger still more chaos and violence from coast to coast as people across the political spectrum come to see American justice as unworthy of the name. 

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