• Arresting officer Derek Chauvin still faces second-degree charges related to Floyd’s death
  • All four officers involved in the case still face more serious crimes
  • Third-degree murder stipulates an inherent risk to more than one person

A third-degree murder charge against a former Minneapolis police officer involved in the fatal arrest of George Floyd was dropped, but a judge Thursday kept two second-degree charges in place.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill dismissed a third-degree murder charge against former officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was the officer who knelt on the neck of Floyd during his fatal arrest May 25. Floyd had been arrested after allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a Minneapolis store.

Cahill kept in place one count of second-degree unintentional murder and one count of second-degree manslaughter against Chauvin. The former police officer’s legal counsel in August asked the judge to dismiss the charges, claiming a lack of sufficient evidence.

Chauvin appears in video pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck. The third-degree murder charges were dismissed because of the stipulation that the act in question posed an inherent risk to others.

The same judge upheld similar charges filed against former police officers J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.

Prosecuting Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement saying that, despite the dismissal of the lower charges against Chauvin, the most serious charges remain in place for the four defendants.

"This is an important, positive step forward in the path toward justice for George Floyd, his family, our community, and Minnesota,” the statement read.

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial profiling. Prosecutors have five days to lodge an appeal against the dismissal of charges against Chauvin.