Thaw is guilty of aiding and abetting homicide in the death of George Floyd
A former Minneapolis police officer involved in the death of George Floyd has been convicted of aiding and abetting murder for his role in the killing nearly three years ago. A judge in Minnesota’s Hennepin County made the ruling Monday night for Tu Thao, one of four former officers facing charges following Floyd’s death.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man accused of trying to shop at a convenience store with a counterfeit bill, died on May 25, 2020, when Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground with his knee on Floyd. Neck for 9 1/2 minutes. Thaw held off onlookers while his colleagues restrained Floyd. Video footage of bystanders in the violent arrest went viral online and shook the country, triggering a nationwide reckoning for racism and police brutality.
Hennepin County Jail
In body camera footage later released by the Minneapolis Police Department, Thaw can be heard telling a crowd of people gathered at the scene of his arrest, “That’s why you don’t do drugs, kids.” He ordered an off-duty firefighter to “back off” while he asked to check Floyd’s pulse, CBS Minnesota Report
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill issued his ruling in a 177-page decision on Monday, calling Thao’s actions during the arrest “intentionally unreasonable” that led to Floyd’s death.
“Thaw knew this prone restraint was extremely dangerous because it could cause asphyxiation — the inability to breathe — the exact condition Floyd repeatedly told officers he was suffering from,” Cahill wrote, citing Chauvin with former Minneapolis police officers. J. Alexander Kueng And Thomas LaneThey used their knees to “forcefully and relentlessly” pin Floyd’s “neck, his mid back, and his lower back, and with his arms Floyd’s legs and his handcuffed arms (placed behind his back when he was in a prone position).”
“Yet Thao made a conscious decision to aid that dangerous restraint: He actively encouraged and aided the three other officers in their crime by detaining concerned pedestrians, refused to provide medical aid to Floyd, did not direct the other three officers to render medical aid. To Floyd, and not allowing Floyd, including an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter on the scene trained in CPR, to render medical aid,” the decision said.
Cahill ordered a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled a sentencing hearing for Thao for Aug. 7. Thao, Kueng and Lane were previously convicted Violation of federal civil rights Floyd was convicted of murder and sentenced to 3 1/2 years, 3 years and 2 1/2 years in prison, respectively. Kueng and Lane have already been convicted on state charges, with the former officer sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and the latter to 3 years.
Chauvin was convicted in April 2021 of state charges of murder and manslaughter during a trial presided over by Cahill, who sentenced him to 22 1/2 years in prison. Although Chauvin appealed the conviction, it was upheld in a decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals last month. He was also sentenced to 21 years in prison for a federal conviction for civil rights violations.
The four former officers will serve their state and federal sentences concurrently. Thaw is the only person who has not admitted wrongdoing at the state or federal level in the wake of Floyd’s murder, and has never pleaded guilty.
While both Kueng and Lane entered pleas of guilty in their own state trials, Thao rejected a similar deal, agreeing instead to a set-of-evidence trial, which in Minnesota calls for the opposing party to set forth “a body of evidence containing a contrary version of events.” When he rejected the plea deal, Thao said, “It would be a lie” if he were convicted.
However, in Monday’s decision, Judge Cahill concluded that “(i)n this case, the evidence overwhelmingly establishes that Tou Thao aided and abetted the second-degree murder on May 25, 2020,” previously writing that, under Minnesota law, “A person is liable for aiding and abetting manslaughter in the second degree when he knowingly and willfully aids the grossly negligent act of a principal resulting in death.”
“Where principals and knowing and willful accomplices act together in conscious disregard of a risk, both are culpable for their respective actions,” Cahill wrote.
Along with Thao’s conviction for aiding and abetting second-degree murder, another charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder was dropped. The later, more serious charge carried a sentence of 12 1/12 years in prison.