As riots continue across major U.S. cities and police stations are burning in Minneapolis, we’re left to wonder how we got here. Meanwhile, the officer who is charged with kneeling on a man’s neck for 8 minutes until he died has been charged with voluntary manslaughter by prosecutors.
To understand just how inappropriate this charge is, we have to understand Minnesota murder laws. Minnesota has a voluntary manslaughter statute, typically known as a “crime of passion”. In other words, let’s say you walk in on your wife and her lover. You flip out and kill them both. There was no planning involved, there was no thought process involved. More precisely, there was no mens rea or guilty intent.
To understand why people are so angry, we must understand the nature of the charges against the lead police officer who was responsible for the death of George Floyd.
Voluntary Manslaughter is Not the Appropriate Charge
There are two charges that make sense here. The first is first-degree murder. The second is involuntary manslaughter. To prove first-degree murder, a prosecutor would need to show that Chauvin knew the man was in distress and continued to harm him anyway. This is easily provable as there is video of Floyd telling him he couldn’t breathe. Then, when Floyd finally urinated himself and went limp, Chavin spent another three minutes with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
The jury should be presented with two options. The first option would be first-degree murder. The second option would be involuntary manslaughter. The defense would make the case that Chauvin wasn’t attempting to kill Floyd, but did so accidentally in the attempt to subdue him. They would have to overcome a great deal of evidence that shows Chauvin knew that he was hurting Floyd and then continued to apply the pressure that eventually killed him, but that’s the defense attorney’s job: To make the best argument given the evidence.
Then there’s the matter of the other police officers who watched on as a man died. They could, if the state was willing, be charged with felony murder. However, they would need to be charged with some felony that occurred during the murder. Aiding and abetting a murder would be a strong enough charge to warrant a felony murder charge.
What’s happened instead, is that you have the State of Minnesota offering Chauvin a plea bargain without any leverage at all. Chauvin has the more difficult of the two cases to make when it comes to defending a first-degree murder charge. The problem, of course, is that everyone knows this is what authorities in Minnesota are doing and they are angry as hell about it. It’s another cop who gets to walk away with his life after taking someone else’s.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been convicted of a serious crime, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A., and allow us to resolve your case.