Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a motion Thursday, citing a legal precedent that would allow him to charge officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng with the crime — potentially adding decades to the amount of prison time they face, according to NBC.
Unlike officer Chauvin — who was captured in footage kneeling on Floyd’s neck in May 2020 — Thao, Lane and Kueng responded to the call for a suspected “forgery in process” but did not directly cut off Floyd’s breathing.
But the officers are accused of failing to stop their partner from allegedly killing Floyd, and Thao later admitted he should have been “more observant” while working crowd control as the incident unfolded.
In the motion filed Thursday, Ellison argued that the state’s Court of Appeals recently upheld a third-degree murder charge against former officer Mohamed Noor over the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
That case included, “situations in which the defendant’s actions … were not specifically directed at that particular person whose death occurred,” he wrote.
Thao, Lane and Kueng are currently charged with aiding and abetting murder along with aiding and abetting manslaughter. Chauvin faces second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.
The addition of a third-degree murder charge could add up to 25 years to a potential jail sentence for all four men.
Lawyers for all four officers did not immediately return NBC’s request for comment on Friday.