ST PAUL, Minnesota—Three former police officers, charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights by not aiding him the day he was murdered by fellow officer Derek Chauvin, were convicted by a jury in federal court on Feb. 24.
The trio, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, all officers from the Minneapolis Police Department, were accused of having deprived Floyd of medical care on May 25, 2020.
Together with Police Officer Derek Chauvin the trio was involved in the arrest of Floyd, during which Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine-and-a-half minutes while he lay prone in the street.
Thao and Lane were also charged with failing to intervene with Chauvin, who was found guilty on three counts of murder and manslaughter on April 20, 2021.
During the arrest, Thao worked crowd control while Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane held his legs.
They were subsequently terminated from the department.
All three testified in their own defenses.
The jury deliberated for about two days and was able to review amateur video of the altercation, which was recorded by a bystander.
Prosecutors attempted to prove the officers violated their training and “chose to do nothing,” whereas the defense countered Kueng and Lane were inexperienced rookies and their training was inadequate.
Additionally, the defense contested Chauvin was the senior officer at the scene and therefore their clients deferred to him and his decisions.
Lane’s attorney said his client twice suggested to Chauvin they roll Floyd over onto his side so he could breathe but was overruled by Chauvin both times.
When Judge Paul Magnuson charged the jury on Feb. 23, he defined “reasonable force” and said that if Chauvin had used unreasonable force, and that Thao and Kueng had a realistic opportunity to intervene and stop it, then they must find Floyd was indeed deprived of his constitutional right to be free from that force.
The ordeal began when Floyd allegedly tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill and escalated when officers attempted to arrest him.
Floyd was a 46-year-old black male and Chauvin is white.
The amateur video went viral and kicked off a summer of racial riots throughout the country, with Minneapolis getting hit the hardest. The video also fueled the Defund the Police movement.
The three defendants will stand trial again in June in state court, on charges alleging they aided and abetted murder and manslaughter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.