The last of four former police officers implicated in the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who choked to death during his arrest on a public street in Minneapolis in 2020, has been found guilty of accessory to involuntary manslaughter by a Minnesota state judge. Tou Thao, who prevented bystanders from intervening while three other officers restrained Floyd, was convicted after a bench trial.
During the arrest, police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly ten minutes, indifferent to his moans and the interventions of shocked pedestrians. Two other officers helped restrain Floyd while Thao kept the crowd away. Judge Cahill noted that Thao could see Floyd’s life slowly ebbing away as he remained immobilized but made a conscious decision to actively participate in his death by holding back bystanders and preventing a firefighter from providing needed medical aid.
Floyd’s death sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality throughout the United States and other countries. Chauvin was convicted of murder in April 2021 and sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison, while the two other officers who restrained Floyd pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and received prison sentences of 36 and 42 months, respectively. Thao will be sentenced on August 7.
Thao’s conviction has been called “historic and correct” by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Floyd’s family has expressed appreciation for the verdict. According to his attorneys, each of these legal actions proves that police brutality is an illegal and punishable act.
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