After Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict, 3 other Minneapolis police officers await trial
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all charges, but that is not the end of prosecutions over George Floyd's death. Cases are ongoing against three other officers involved in the fatal arrest.
The three officers — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane — each face two charges in state court: aiding and abetting second-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, although Reuters reports sentencing guidelines reduce that to 15 years; and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
After a jury found Chauvin guilty on April 20 of all three counts he was facing in the death of George Floyd — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter —Ben Crump, the attorney for Floyd's family, called the case "a turning point in American history for accountability in law enforcement."
All four officers are also facing federal civil rights charges. A joint trial for Thao, Kueng and Lane on the state charges, which had been scheduled to begin August 23, has now been postponed until March 2022.
The three were released from jail after posting $750,000 bond. All of the officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department just days after Floyd's death.
Lane, who was 37 at the time, and Keung, who was 26, were the first to approach Floyd while he sat in his car, after receiving a call about a man allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. Lane approached the driver's side, where Floyd was sitting, and as they were speaking, pulled his gun out and pointed it at Floyd's window until Floyd put his hands on the steering wheel. Lane then put his gun back in his holster, prosecutors said.
Lane ordered Floyd to leave his car and handcuffed him, telling him he was under arrest for possessing counterfeit money. Prosecutors said that after Keung and Lane tried to walk Floyd to their police squad car, he stiffened and fell to the ground, telling officers he was not resisting but did not want to get in the back seat of car and was claustrophobic.
At that time, prosecutors said, officers Chauvin and Thao arrived.
Chauvin, then 44, was the most senior among the four officers and had been on the police force for nearly 20 years. Thao, then 34, had rejoined the force in 2012 after he was laid off as a rookie in 2009. He had previously been the subject of an excessive force lawsuit, for which the victim received a $25,000 settlement.
The officers made several attempts to get Floyd into a police squad car as Floyd, whose hands were cuffed behind his back, told them repeatedly he could not breathe.
Chauvin then pulled Floyd onto the ground in a scene that has since been viewed millions of times in cellphone video captured by teenager Darnella Frazier. While Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck, Kueng held Floyd's back and Lane held his legs.
Floyd said repeatedly, "I can't breathe," and called out for his mother.
Thao looked on as the other three officers restrained Floyd. Prosecutors say he became concerned about the number of bystanders who had gathered, and stood between the officers and citizens. When a bystander stepped from the curb, asking Chauvin to get off Floyd, prosecutors said Thao "put his hands on the citizen to keep him back."
One of those bystanders, Donald Williams, took the stand during the first day of Chauvin's trial, testifying that as Thao ordered onlookers to stay back he told them, "This is what drugs do to you."
Williams said Thao "controlled the people — he controlled me," and added, "He was the guy that let it go on while it went on."
Prosecutors also said that at one point while restraining Floyd's legs, Lane asked, "Should we roll him on his side?" Chauvin responded, "No, staying put where we got him."
Lane said, "I am worried about excited delirium or whatever," referencing a controversial phrase often cited by police and paramedics to describe a condition sometimes associated with drug use. Chauvin responded, "That's why we have him on his stomach."
At about 8 minutes and 24 seconds into the video, prosecutors said, Floyd stopped moving. Lane asked, "Want to roll him on his side?" Keung checked Floyd's wrist for a pulse and said, "I couldn't find one."
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