Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao has been found guilty of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter for his role in the murder of George Floyd.
Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020, after another former officer named Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. The incident was captured on video and shared widely on social media, sparking a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement that summer.
Thao was shown on the video keeping watch as Chauvin kneeled on Floyd. According to the Star Tribune, Thao prevented bystanders concerned for Floyd from approaching.
In February 2022, Thao and two other officers involved (Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng) were convicted in federal court of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights. Each also faced a charges from Minnesota. In October 2022, Thao waived his rights to a jury trial, CNN reports.
According to The New York Times, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill convicted Thao on Tuesday, May 2. Cahill said that Thao “actively encouraged his three colleagues’ dangerous prone restraint of Floyd.”
“Like the bystanders, Thao could see Floyd’s life slowly ebbing away as the restraint continued,” Cahill wrote in the verdict, CNN reports. “Yet Thao made a conscious decision to actively participate in Floyd’s death: he held back the concerned bystanders and even prevented an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter from rendering the medical aid Floyd so desperately needed.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, the lead prosecutor of Floyd’s murder, called the conviction “historic and the right outcome.”
“While we have now reached the end of the prosecution of Floyd’s murder, it is not behind us,” Ellison said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “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.”
The legal team representing Floyd’s family released a statement on the family’s behalf.
“The family of George Floyd is grateful for another measure of accountability for his death,” the statement said, according to CNN. “Nearly three years after George was killed, the family and Minneapolis community continue to heal as the criminal justice system prevails. With each of these measures of justice, it is even more so demonstrated that police brutality is an illegal – and punishable – act.”
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