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Parsing The Legal Questions Behind The Prosecution Of The Four Officers Involved In The Murder Of George Floyd




 Protesters wearing face masks hold up signs during a Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park on June 3, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.
Protesters wearing face masks hold up signs during a Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park on June 3, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

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Prosecutors charged three more police officers Wednesday in the death of George Floyd and filed a new, tougher charge against the officer at the center of the case, delivering a victory to protesters who have filled the streets from coast to coast to fight police brutality and racial injustice.

The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck and now must defend himself against an accusation of second-degree murder. The three other officers at the scene were charged for the first time with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
What is the difference between first-degree, second-degree and third-degree murder? And what are the strategic implications for how a prosecutor might determine those charges? We dive into these legal questions. 

With files from the Associated Press.

Guests:

Shan Wu, former federal prosecutor based in Washington D.C.; he tweets @shanlonwu

Richard Frase, a criminal law professor at the University of Minnesota Law School