Prosecutors seek right mix of charges in George Floyd case

This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by him and the other Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Kueng, Lane and Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by him and the other Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Kueng, Lane and Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP) (Hennepin County Sheriff)

CHICAGO – As damning as video evidence in the George Floyd case appears to be, prosecutors know they must bring the right charges underpinned by sound legal logic if they hope to convict a Minnesota officer in Floyd's May 25 death.

Exhibit No. 1 at trial is likely to be bystander video showing Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck as the handcuffed Floyd says he can't breathe. Chauvin held his knee there even after the 46-year-old black man stopped moving.

But strong video evidence doesn’t mean a conviction will be easy. When it comes to police officers charged with crimes in the line of duty, it never is.

“This is not a shoo-in,” said Mike Brandt, a Minnesota defense attorney. “There are lots of lines prosecutors have to connect. If you raise questions about even one, you could raise reasonable doubts.”

Here's a look at some questions and answers about the charges against Chauvin and three other officers, who were all fired:

Q: WHAT ARE THE CHARGES?

A: Prosecutors this week added a new charge against the 44-year-old Chauvin: unintentional second-degree murder. Initial charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter remain.

Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.