The fate of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will soon be in the hands of a dozen jurors who will decide if he killed George Floyd last year.
Chauvin, 45, faces three counts — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the caught-on-camera death of the 46-year-old father.
The top charge, for which he faces up to 40 years in prison, is commonly known as felony murder “based on the idea that Chauvin intentionally committed an assault which unintentionally caused Floyd’s death,” said civil rights lawyer Ron Kuby.
“This is most commonly used in cases where someone commits a robbery and then hits a pedestrian speeding away,” the attorney added.
The third-degree murder rap alleges that Chauvin acted with “depraved indifference” to human life “based on the idea that some conduct is so inherently dangerous” that “it will be treated as the equivalent of murder,” Kuby said.
“The law school hypothetical is opening the lion’s cage at the zoo,” the legal expert explained. “You do not intend to have the lion eat little Sally but …”
If convicted of this count, Chauvin faces a maximum of 25 years.
The final charge, second-degree manslaughter, alleges that Chauvin acted with culpable negligence, which created an unreasonable risk of death for which he faces a maximum of 10 years.
Kuby, however, noted that “these maximums sound worse than they are.” For example, if Chauvin were convicted of only manslaughter, he could be out in 2 1/2 years with good behavior.
Prosecutors argued in closing statements Monday that Floyd desperately begged for his life as he slowly died of asphyxiation, positioned face-down on the pavement, with his hands cuffed behind his back — and Chauvin’s knee on his neck.
The defense countered that Chauvin used “reasonable force” and blamed Floyd’s death on drug use and an enlarged heart.
The jury — made up of seven women and five men, half of whom are black or biracial — is expected to begin deliberations in Hennepin County District Court early this week.