KS criminal defense attorney explains charge against Minneapolis officer

Published: May. 29, 2020 at 9:06 PM CDT
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Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis, Minn. police officer shown on video with his knee on George Floyd's neck now faces charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter.

In Kansas, there is no such charge as "third-degree murder," so what does it mean? Eyewitness News Friday sought clarity from a local criminal defense attorney.

Jess Hoeme, a criminal defense attorney with Joseph Hollander and Craft, LLC in Wichita, says if Floyd's murder would've happened in Kansas, the now former Minneapolis officer would face prison time for reckless aggravated battery.

"So in Kansas, it would be sort of the functional equivalent of reckless (aggravated) battery causing a death," Hoeme says. "So you're acting recklessly, which means you're disregarding the danger to human life. And you're doing that intentionally, disregarding the danger."

Hoeme says in his opinion, that's what can be seen in the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck, disregarding the danger of human life.

"And that's what caused the death and that is what the murder in the third degree is," he says. "So murder in the third degree in Minnesota is the act of continuing to place his knee on his neck for such a long period of time, he accidentally caused the death, but the way that he did it was with a reckless disregard of the danger of that position of the knee on the neck."

The criminal complaint against the now former officer says "Chauvin had his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds in total. Two minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Mr. Floyd was non-responsive."

The complaint also says, "Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous."

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