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 9½ minutes as the 46-year-old Black man was handcuffed, facedown, on the street on May 25, 2020. Conviction on a federal civil rights violation that results in death is punishable by life in prison or even death, but such sentences are extremely rare, the AP reports. The former officers will remain free on bond pending sentencing.
Thao and Kueng also were convicted of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin, per USA Today. Chauvin was convicted of murder last year in state court and pleaded guilty in December in the federal case. Kueng knelt on Floyd's back, Lane held his legs, and Thao kept bystanders back. Thao testified that he relied on the other officers to care for Floyd's medical needs, as his attention was elsewhere. During the monthlong trial, prosecutors sought to show that the officers violated their training, including when they failed to move Floyd or give him CPR.
Floyd's condition was so serious, prosecutors argued, that even bystanders without basic medical training could see he needed help. The defense said that their training was inadequate and that the officers deferred to Chauvin as the senior officer. In closing arguments, prosecutors told jurors that the three officers "chose to do nothing" as Chauvin squeezed the life out of Floyd. Defense attorneys countered that the officers did not willfully violate Floyd's rights. Lane, Kueng, and Thao also face a separate trial in June on state charges accusing them of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
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