A St. Paul, Minn., federal jury found former Minneapolish police officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane guilty Thursday of violating the civil rights of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, during the arrest that resulted in his death.
The jury of four men and eight women delivered their verdict after being shown evidence that the officers showed intentional indifference to Mr. Floyd’s medical needs on May 25, 2020. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd for more than nine minutes, which ultimately killed him.
Mr. Thao and Mr. Kueng were found guilty of an additional charge for failing to intervene and stop Mr. Chauvin. Mr. Lane did not face the additional charge because he asked Mr. Chauvin twice to reposition Mr. Floyd while restraining him, but Mr. Chauvin refused both times to do so.
According to the Department of Justice, the civil rights crime “is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.”
“The charges stemmed from the officers’ actions — or lack thereof — as Chauvin pressed his knee into the neck and back of Floyd, who was handcuffed and lying on his stomach on the pavement. Kueng and Lane, both rookie officers, held down Floyd’s torso and legs, respectively, while Thao stood nearby and kept a crowd of upset bystanders back,” reported CNN.
An eyewitness video to the incident showed Mr. Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck as Mr. Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. In April 2021, Mr. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter, and in June he was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.
This June, Mr. Lane, Mr. Kueng and Mr. Thao will face state trial on charges of aiding and abetting in the killing. They have pleaded not guilty to these charges.
In December, Mr. Chauvin pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges in relation to Mr. Floyd’s death as well as the restraint of a teenager in a separate incident. He now faces between 20 and 25 years in prison, which prosecutors have requested be served concurrently with the sentence from his state trial.
The state trial for Mr. Kueng and Mr. Thao began Jan. 24. Prosecutors argued that while Mr. Floyd could have survived the incident, the remaining officers chose not to intercede despite Mr. Floyd’s protest that he couldn’t breathe under the pressure of Mr. Chauvin’s knee.
“It wasn’t a split-second use of force like a gunshot. Not 30 seconds, not a minute, several minutes – 569 seconds,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda Sertich said during closing arguments.
The defense argued that their clients did not willfully fail to help Mr. Floyd.
“Just because something has a tragic ending doesn’t mean it’s a crime,” said Mr. Thao’s lawyer in his closing arguments.
The attorneys for Mr. Kueng and Mr. Lane said the officers were rookies with insufficient training who were subordinate to Mr. Chauvin.
“We don’t need commanders to tell us that if someone has seniority over you, you listen to them. It’s common sense,” Earl Gray, Mr. Lane’s lawyer, told the court on Tuesday.
Mr. Chauvin was silent during his trial, but Mr. Lane, Mr. Thao and Mr. Kueng all took the stand to testify about their thoughts and actions during the incident.