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New murder charge for officer on trial for George Floyd’s death

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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in court on March 9
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in court on March 9   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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A former police officer charged over the death of George Floyd has now been charged with third-degree murder, resolving an issue that could have delayed his trial for months.

Derek Chauvin, already facing second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, had an additional charge added following a request from prosecutors.

Legal experts say the new charge will help prosecutors by giving jurors one more option to convict Chauvin of murder.

The dispute over the third-degree murder charge revolved around wording in the law that references an act “eminently dangerous to others”.

A judge had earlier dismissed the charge as not appropriate for the case, where Chauvin’s conduct might be construed as not dangerous to anyone but Floyd.

But an appellate court ruling in an unrelated case established new grounds for the charge in Chauvin’s case.

The ruling came ahead of resumption of jury selection on Thursday.

Five jurors have been seated after just two days of screening by attorneys and the judge, who has set aside at least three weeks to fill the panel.

Attorneys have given considerable attention to the jury pool's attitudes toward police in the first two days of questioning, trying to determine whether they’re more inclined to believe testimony from law enforcement over evidence from other witnesses to the fatal confrontation.

George Floyd died on May 25, after Derek Chauvin and other officers attempted to arrest him.

Footage showed Chauvin press his knee against Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes.

Mass demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice then spread from Minneapolis across the United States, and later, to Europe.