Three former Minneapolis police officers who were with Derek Chauvin when he killed George Floyd were found guilty in their federal trial of violating Floyd’s civil rights on Feb. 24. The verdict is just days after Ahmaud Abery was convicted in federal hate crime trial.
Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis officer policeman, took Floyd into custody after he accused Floyd of using counterfeit money to buy groceries in Minneapolis. During the arrest, Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes while three other officers—J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane—and bystanders watched. Thao engaged in crowd control, while Lane held Floyd’s legs down and Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back.
Floyd later died in the hospital. His death led to national reflections on inequality, race and violence by police officers.
Chauvin was later convicted of second-degree killing and sentenced for 22 and a half years. In a federal civil rights matter, he also pled guilty.
All three officers were charged with Floyd’s willful deprivation of liberty and without due process. Thao and Kueng were separately charged with willfully violating Floyd’s rights to be free from unreasonable seizure when they failed to stop Chauvin’s actions.
During the trial—which lasted about a month—the prosecution argued that the officers were obligated to step in and stop Chauvin from kneeling on Floyd’s neck, and should have provided aid to Floyd but failed to do so. As they put it, Floyd’s condition was so severe that, while Chauvin was kneeling on his neck, bystanders and onlookers without medical training could see that he needed help. Many of the witnesses can be heard calling out for help in cellphone footage taken during the incident.
“They chose not to intervene, they chose not to aid Mr. Floyd,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda Sertich said during closing arguments on Tuesday. “This is a crime. The defendants are guilty as charged.”
They focused on Minneapolis Police Department’s training method and methods. The defense team also blamed the MPD’s culture for rookie officers Lane and Kueng not being taught to respect Chauvin.
During the trial, the officers also testified that their training was insufficient and that they lack experience. While on the stand, Thao said that he would “trust a 19-year veteran to figure it out,” in reference to Chauvin and his actions.
They are currently awaiting their state trial which will begin on June 13th. They’re charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.