What is 2nd degree murder? Derek Chauvin sentence explained - and charges of police officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng

The four police officers involved in George Floyd’s death have now been charged

Four officers have been charged following the death of George Floyd (Getty Images)
Four officers have been charged following the death of George Floyd (Getty Images)

Prosecutors have upgraded the charge of one ex-police officer at the centre of the George Floyd case and for the first time charged three other officers.

Derek Chauvin, who could be seen kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, has had his charged of third-degree murder upgraded to second-degree murder.

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The three ex-officers also involved in the arrest and death of George Floyd have all been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

This is the first time that Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have been charged in relation to the death of George Floyd.

All four officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department last week.

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What is second-degree murder?

Chauvin had previously been charged with third degree murder, which by Minnesota defines as the causing of death “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree.”

Now Chauvin will be required to defend himself against the charge of second degree murder.

According to Minnesota statute someone who is guilty of second degree murder is defined as a person who “causes the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation."

A person who is found guilty of third degree murder faces no more than 25 years in prison, while a person who is found guilty of second degree murder could face up to 40 years behind bars.

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What is second-degree manslaughter?

Chauvin is also facing a charge of second-degree manslaughter.

This is defined by Minnesota Statute as “creating an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another”.

Aiding and abetting charges

Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have all been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Aiding and abetting charges are levelled at those who may have helped someone in the commission of a crime.

In Minnesota a person is aiding and abetting if they intentionally aid, advises, hire, counsel, or conspire with someone carrying out a crime.

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Both of the men’s charges are defined as “unintentional felonies”.

Thomas Lane was the first of three officers to post bail, posting a bond of $750,000.