Ex-cops convicted of violating Floyd’s rights
Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, three former Minneapolis police officers, were convicted Thursday of violating George Floyd’s civil rights. The three were charged with depriving Floyd of his right to medical care when Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes.
The three former officers were found guilty of violating Floyd’s civil rights as Officer Derek Chauvin killed him. Thao and Lane were also charged with failing to intervene to stop Chauvin. Chauvin was convicted of murder last year in state court and pleaded guilty in December in the federal case.
The videotaped killing sparked protests in Minneapolis that spread around the globe.
Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs and Thao kept bystanders back. Kueng and Lane both said they deferred to Chauvin as the senior officer at the scene. Thao testified that he relied on the other officers to care for Floyd’s medical needs as his attention was elsewhere.
Conviction of a federal civil rights violation that results in death is punishable by life in prison or even death, but such sentences are extremely rare. The former officers will remain free on bond pending sentencing.
During the month-long trial, prosecutors sought to show that the officers violated their training, including when they failed to move Floyd or give him CPR. Prosecutors argued that Floyd’s condition was so serious that even bystanders without basic medical training could see he needed help.
The defense said their training was inadequate and that the officers deferred to Chauvin as the senior officer at the scene. Prosecutors told jurors during closing arguments that the three officers “chose to do nothing” as Chauvin squeezed the life out of Floyd. Defense attorneys countered that the officers were too inexperienced, weren’t trained properly and did not willfully violate Floyd’s rights.
A handful of protesters stood outside the courthouse Thursday morning holding large signs, including one mocking the officers that said, “If I only had a brain, a heart, the nerve.” It was decorated with pictures of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion from “The Wizard of Oz.”
Lane, Kueng and Thao face a separate trial in June on state charges alleging they aided and abetted murder and manslaughter.