Ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao Found Guilty In The Killing Of George Floyd
Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao has been convicted of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd, according to MPR News.
Thao, 37, was reportedly the officer who pushed bystanders back as his colleague Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes on May 25, 2020.
Floyd died despite begging officers to let him up and repeatedly yelling, “I can’t breathe.”
Judge Peter Cahill said in his verdict that Thao “actively encouraged his three colleagues’ dangerous prone restraint of Floyd,” per CNN.
“Like the bystanders, Thao could see Floyd’s life slowly ebbing away as the restraint continued. Yet, Thao made a conscious decision to actively participate in Floyd’s death: he held back the concerned bystander and even prevented an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter from rendering the medical aid Floyd so desperately needed.”
All four former police officers have also been convicted in federal court for violating Floyd’s civil rights and sentenced to between two and a half and three and a half years. Chauvin was sentenced to more than 20 years.
They’ll serve the state and federal sentences at the same time in federal facilities.
Former Minneapolis Cop Tou Thao's Side Of The Story
Thao’s manslaughter conviction means that the state will, in turn, drop the harsher charge of aiding and abetting murder, according to MPR News.
Robert Paule, Thao’s lawyer, claims his client was never aware that Floyd was essentially being choked to death. The lawyer added that Thao had followed his Minneapolis police training. Paule said that Thao wanted to rush Floyd to get medical treatment for “excited delirium.”
The man in the photo, Tuo Thao, stood by and watched as his colleague murdered #GeorgeFloyd. Silence and complacency only work to uphold white supremacy. pic.twitter.com/wIr39kxoBh
— Cindy (she/her) (@CindyNguyenOK) May 28, 2020
Prosecutors Counter Thao Was An Experienced Officer, Should Have Known Better
Meanwhile, prosecutors countered Thao’s claims, arguing he was an experienced police officer of nearly nine years and should have known the dangers.
Witness and bodycam footage shows Thao repeatedly pushing back bystanders, including an off-duty firefighter who directed officers to check Floyd’s pulse.
Thao reportedly said at one point: “This is why you don’t do drugs, kids.”
📌⬇🔍#OAXACA Condenan a más de 3 años de prisión a expolicías involucrados en asesinato de George Floyd
Este miércoles un tribunal federal de Estados Unidos, condenó a J. Alexander Kueng y Tuo Thao, ambos expolicías acusados de participar en el asesinato de George pic.twitter.com/V9KVVGQVMu
— ORP Noticias (@orpnoticias) July 30, 2022
Conviction Brings An End To Legal Proceedings Involving All Four Officers, Thao Speaks Out
Thao’s conviction brings an end to all four former officers’ legal proceedings.
Last month, a state appeals court unanimously denied Chauvin’s appeal for a new trial. Judges upheld the ruling that Chauvin used unreasonable force on Floyd.
Thao spoke at sentencing in a rambling speech that lasted over 20 minutes. He heavily quoted bible scriptures and urged people to turn to God while speaking of “false accusations.”
#DerekChauvin #TuoThao #GeorgeFloyd #PoliceBrutality pic.twitter.com/2hL51PcNz1
— Scott SFBA.social (@bullriders1) May 27, 2020
Thao Rejects Plea Deal, Two Other Former Officers Convicted, Pleaded Guilty
Thao rejected a plea deal and told the court that “it would be a lie and a sin” for him to plead guilty, requesting Judge Cahill to rule on the case instead.
Meanwhile, Chauvin and two other former officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, have already been convicted or pleaded guilty in state court.
Thao still awaits his sentencing hearing in state court, which is reportedly on August 7, per New York Times.
The presumptive sentence for aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter is typically 48 months. However, the judge has the discretion to adjust that sentence.
Minnesota AG Keith Ellison said in a statement:
“While we have now reached the end of the prosecution of Floyd’s murder, it is not behind us. There is much more that prosecutors, law-enforcement leaders, rank-and-file officers, elected officials, and community can do to bring about true justice in law enforcement and true trust and safety in all communities.”