Chauvin was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. He was previously fired from the Minneapolis PD, after a video emerged of him kneeling on Floyd’s neck during an attempted arrest on Monday. Preliminary autopsy report showed that Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd’s neck after the man stopped breathing. 

Statutory definition of third-degree murder is “unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated without any design to effect death,” and the instant legal scholars on social media were infuriated, claiming they could tell Chauvin went after Floyd with the intent to kill. 

Shortly after the charges were announced, hashtags such as #RaiseTheDegree and #HeHadIntent began trending.

Actually proving premeditated murder in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt – especially in a racially charged atmosphere following protests escalating into riots – is not an easy task, which is probably why the Hennepin County prosecutors went for something easier to prove. 

Back in 2015, Baltimore, Maryland authorities reacted to the riots over the death of Freddie Gray by rushing to charge six officers involved in the arrest of the African-American man. They failed to prove second-degree murder, and all six officers were either acquitted or had charges against them dropped over the course of the next year.

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