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Prosecutors want to charge four officers with third-degree murder in George Floyd's death

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed the motion Thursday.
A protester holds a sign with an image of George Floyd during protests on May 27, 2020, in Minneapolis.
A protester holds a sign with an image of George Floyd during protests on May 27, 2020, in Minneapolis.Christine T. Nguyen / Minnesota Public Radio via AP file

Prosecutors are seeking to add third-degree murder charges against four former Minneapolis police officers in the death of George Floyd.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed the motion on Thursday.

Former officer Derek Chauvin was initially charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for his role in Floyd's May death.

Image: Minnesota Announces New Charges Against Officers In Killing Of George Floyd
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison makes an announcement about the former Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd on June 3, 2020 in Minneapolis.Scott Olson / Getty Images file

But Chauvin's attorney succeeded in getting the third-degree murder charge dismissed for lack of probable cause because it could only be applied "in situations in which the defendant's actions ... were not specifically directed at that particular person whose death occurred," the motion states.

Ellison, however, argued that the state's Court of Appeals recently upheld a third-degree murder charge against former officer Mohamed Noor in a case involving the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

The appeals court ruled in Noor's case that "third-degree murder may occur even if the death-causing act endangered only one person," according to the motion.

"Because the decision in Noor is precedential and now provides this court with clear guidance regarding the elements of third-degree murder, the State respectfully requests that the court reinstate the third-degree murder charge," the motion reads.

Ellison is asking that third-degree murder either be reinstated for Chauvin or that his complaint be amended to include the charge.

Thomas Lane,J. Alexander Kueng
Former Minneapolis Police officers Thomas Lane, right, and J. Alexander Kueng, second from right, are escorted out of the Hennepin County Family Justice Center on Sept. 11, 2020, in Minneapolis, after a hearing for the four Minneapolis police officers who are charged in the death of George Floyd.Jim Mone / AP file

The attorney general also wants the charge included on the amended complaints against the other three officers: Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng. They are currently charged with aiding and abetting murder as well as aiding and abetting manslaughter.

Attorneys for all four officers did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday.

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Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody on May 25. Video showed Chauvin kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly said, "I can't breathe."

The death sparked protests in Minneapolis and across the country, and led to a nationwide reckoning on race.

Chauvin and the other officers were all fired from the Minneapolis Police Department in May. Chauvin is scheduled to stand trial in March and the others will stand trial together in August.