Update (October 23, 2020): A judge dropped the third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin, the former officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25 in Minneapolis.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill announced the dismissal of charges on Wednesday but denied dropping the remaining charges against Chauvin, according to CNN.
Cahill said the third-degree murder charge can only "be sustained only in situations in which the defendant's actions were 'eminently dangerous to other persons' and were not specifically directed at the particular person whose death occurred."
According to the Star Tribune, the ruling was based on a 2014 Minnesota Supreme Court case that stated a third-degree murder charge "cannot occur where the defendant's actions were focused on a specific person."
The former officer is still facing a higher charge of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Cahill also denied dismissing charges against the other former officers involved in the killing of Floyd, stating there was enough evidence for jurors to decide if they should be convicted on aiding and abetting charges, the Star Tribune reported. Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
The lead prosecutor said the judge's ruling on Wednesday was a "positive step forward in the path toward justice for George Floyd, his family, our community and Minnesota."
"The court has sustained eight out of nine charges against the defendants in the murder of George Floyd, including the most serious charges against all four defendants," Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said.
Additionally, the judge's ruling led Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to issue an executive order activating the state's National Guard for public safety measures if needed.
According to TMZ, Chauvin was let out of Oak Park Heights prison in Minnesota on Wednesday after he managed to post a $1 million non-cash bond backed by A-Affordable Bail Bonds.
His next court appearance is scheduled for March, when his trial is slated to begin. He is currently facing charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
— Sonia Prince (@Die__Trying_) October 7, 2020
The reaction online was far from positive, with many decrying Chauvin being allowed to spend the holidays with his family while Floyd's daughter would still be without a father.
to everyone saying he will have a trial in march… its not fair how he can walk around and spend thanksgiving and christmas with his family after murdering someone unjustly. while george floyds daughter cannot see her dad for these occasions
— shay ⁷ ᴰ² (@DAYSORSHAY) October 7, 2020
Others tied Chauvin's release to the Breonna Taylor case and noted how unfair the decision was.
Derek Chauvin, the racist cop who put his knee in George Floyd’s neck, killing him, was set free on 1 million bond but Breonna Taylor have YET to get justice. The audacity of these people in power wow. Prayers to George’s family.
— Kenidra4Humanity ~ KHHL ~ (@KenidraRWoods_) October 7, 2020
Derek Chauvin is the monster that kept his neck on George Floyd's neck for 9 minutes, and he just posted $1M bond so he's walking around free while George Floyd is dead.
Where is the fucking justice?
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) October 7, 2020
Some said situations like this were why so many people came out to protest this summer.
"I just CAN'T underSTAND why they are PROTESTING!" *clutch pearls*
– Breonna Taylor's killers face no charges in her death.
– Derek Chauvin walks on a non-cash bond from a murder charge & 9 counts of felony tax evasion.
Can't imagine why people are protesting.
— The OpeRAWR Geek (@TheOperaGeek) October 7, 2020
Others noted the larger implications of Chauvin's release on bail and what it says about the inequities of the U.S. justice system.
How did George Floyd’s murderer, Derek Chauvin, get $1,000,000 non-cash bail?
That’s racial inequality right there. I don’t see too many POC given a non-cash bond after allegedly killing someone.
— Brad Betts (@870South) October 7, 2020
Our white supremacist justice system means that a murderer like Derek Chauvin is out on $125,000 bail, and people who haven't even been indicted for minor drug offenses are stuck in COVID-riddled jails because their families can't afford a $1,000 bail bond.
— ashley fairbanks (@ziibiing) October 7, 2020
Chauvin gained an undesired notoriety after video showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, slowly strangling him to death.
"Mr. Floyd was treated with particular cruelty. Despite Mr. Floyd's pleas that he could not breathe and was going to die, as well as the pleas of eyewitnesses to get off Mr. Floyd and help him, (the) defendant and his codefendants continued to restrain Mr. Floyd," prosecutors wrote according to CNN.
The killing sparked months of global unrest, demonstrations and protests over racism, police brutality and anti-Blackness that continues to plague nations around the world.
Chauvin was the last of four officers still in prison related to the killing of Floyd. Although he was the one to kneel on Floyd’s neck, Alexander Keung, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao helped to hold the late father down and yell at a screaming and terrified group of bystanders during the killing. The three officers are facing charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Local Minnesota outlet WCCO reported Chauvin had a long history of using neck or head restraints on people being arrested. He had seven other incidents related to head, neck or upper body restraints and four of those situations went too far, according to prosecutors.
He is facing 12 years in prison if convicted on the second degree murder charge and is also looking at additional charges related to tax evasion, WCCO noted.