Wednesday Jun 29, 2022

3 former Minneapolis police officers guilty of violating George Floyd’s civil rights

3 former Minneapolis police officers guilty of violating George Floyd's civil rights

Three former Minneapolis police officers were convicted Thursday of violating George Floyd’s civil rights.

Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were charged with depriving Floyd of his right to medical care when Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes as the 46-year-old Black man was handcuffed and facedown on the street on May 25, 2020. Thao and Lane were also charged with failing to intervene to stop Chauvin.

The videotaped killing sparked protests in Minneapolis that spread across the U.S. and around the globe as part of reckoning over racial injustice. Chauvin was convicted of murder last April in state court and pleaded guilty in December in the federal case.

Chauvin and Thao went to the scene to help rookies Kueng and Lane after they responded to a call that Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill at a corner store. Floyd struggled with officers as they tried to put him in a police SUV.

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.

WATCH | Ex-officer Derek Chauvin sentenced for George Floyd’s murder: 

Derek Chauvin sentenced to 22½ years in prison for murder of George Floyd

The death of George Floyd sparked protests worldwide against anti-Black racism and violence. Now former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison for Floyd’s murder. 2:39

Prosecutors sought to show officers violated training

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 and federal sentencing guidelines suggest the officers would get much less if convicted.

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.

Prosecutors told jurors during closing arguments that the three officers “chose to do nothing” as Chauvin squeezed the life out of Floyd. Defence 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.

Street art commemorating George Floyd is seen. Derek Chauvin, the former officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck was convicted of murder and manslaughter last April and later pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge. (Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Jury appeared less diverse than Chauvin’s 

Lane is white, Kueng is Black and Thao is Hmong American.

All 12 members of the jury — eight women and four men — appeared to be white, although the court has not released demographics such as race or age.

A woman who appeared to be of Asian descent was excused Tuesday from the panel without explanation; a man who appeared to be of Asian descent remained as an alternate if one of the current 12 cannot continue.

That was a sharp contrast to the jury that deliberated Chauvin’s state murder case. That jury included six white people, four Black people and two multiracial people, according to information provided by the court. 

The federal jury pool was selected from throughout the state, which includes areas much more conservative and less diverse than the Minneapolis area from which Chauvin’s jury was drawn. 

The jurors were not sequestered — isolated from outside influences that could sway their opinion — which is sometimes done by having them stay in hotels during deliberations. They were allowed to watch videos from the scene and view other evidence as much as they wanted during deliberations.

Lane, Kueng and Thao also face a separate trial in June on state charges alleging that they aided and abetted murder and manslaughter.


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