Three former Minneapolis police officers were found guilty of violating George Floyd's civil rights. This was the Black man who died at the hands police in 2020. Protests against racism throughout the world have intensified since then.
Tou Thao and Thomas Lane, former officers, were all convicted of Floyd's deprivation of civil rights, while they were acting under the authority of the government when they failed him with medical assistance. Kueng and Thao were also convicted for not intervening to stop Derek Chauvin using excessive force. They had pleaded guilty.
Thao, Kueng, and Lane could each be sentenced to life imprisonment, though it is unlikely that they will receive such severe punishment. They are due to stand trial on June 18th on charges of state aiding and abetting manslaughter and murder.
Prosecutors stated that the defendants were "front-row" witnesses to Floyd's murder, and they "choosed to do nothing" while Chauvin was knelt on Floyd for 9 1/2 minutes.
Assistant U.S. attorney Manda Sertich stated Tuesday that they chose not to assist George Floyd because the window through which Mr. Floyd could have been saved was closed.
Floyd, 46, was discovered by officers responding to a call regarding a fake bill at a Minneapolis convenience store. Both rookie officers and partners in the call, Kueng and Lane were on Floyd's side. Chauvin put deadly pressure on Floyd's neck, and Floyd gasped for air. Thao was in charge of crowd control.
Sertich claimed that Thao insulted and argued with the crowd who begged him to help Floyd who was in imminent death. She said that Kueng picked up gravel from a tire of a police vehicle and joined Chauvin as he mocked Floyd. Lane expressed concern about Floyd's side, but she did not do anything to provide him with much-needed medical assistance.
Defense lawyers claim that the men were not properly trained and that they relied upon Chauvin to be the most experienced officer at the scene.
Robert Paule, Thao's defense attorney, stated that Floyd's death was tragic, but that it did not necessarily mean that the crime had been committed.
Thomas Plunkett, Kueng's lawyer, stated that his client was confident in Chauvin, and had received training from police departments that was "inadequate to help him understand, perceive, and see what was going on here."
Earl Gray, Lane's attorney, was the only officer not charged with failing intervene to stop Chauvin using excessive force. He said Lane was concerned about Floyd and suggested that he turn to his side, but Chauvin ignored him. Gray also stated that Lane assisted paramedics during his closing argument.
The trial saw all three officers testify, marking the first public comment made about Floyd's case since his death on May 25, 2020.
Lane, third officer to testify in courtroom, choked as he testified that he attempted to help paramedics when he couldn't locate Floyd's pulse.
Lane claimed that he performed chest compressions on Floyd as the paramedics arrived. He was about to load Floyd into an ambulance, and Lane offered to take him to the hospital. He claimed that he asked Floyd twice if Floyd should be rolled on his side, but was denied by Chauvin, his superior officer.
Lane stated that he wasn't suggesting Floyd should be on his team because he was concerned about asphyxia, but that "I just wanted a better assessment."
Kueng stated that Floyd did not have a "serious health need" when he restrained him. He also said that he didn't recognize Chauvin's restraint and did not know if it was against police policy.
Thao, however, stated that he relied on his fellow officers for Floyd's medical care while dealing with onlookers. He also said that he didn't know that Floyd was in serious condition even though an ambulance took him away.
A jury convicted Chauvin of state murder and manslaughter last year. He pleaded guilty in December to violating Floyd’s civil rights. He is currently awaiting sentencing for the federal case.
He is still in prison serving a 22 1/2-year sentence in state case. This sentence was one of the longest ever imposed on a police officers for a killing in line of duty.