Police officer who kept bystanders back while colleague murdered George Floyd jailed for five years

7 August 2023, 19:36 | Updated: 7 August 2023, 19:38

Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd murder sentenced
Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd murder sentenced. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

Tou Thao has been convicted for his role in the murder of George Floyd and sentenced to five years in prison.

Thao was sentenced to four years and nine months in Minnesota after being found guilty of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in May.

The former Minneapolis police officer was on the scene when Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd's neck for nine and a half minutes while the black man pleaded for his life on May 25 2020.

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Thao held back concerned onlookers who were attempting to aid Floyd before he succumbed to the attack.

Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd murder sentenced
Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd murder sentenced. Picture: Getty

In his 177-page ruling, Judge Cahill said Thao's actions separated Chauvin and two other former officers from the crowd, including an emergency medical technician, allowing his colleagues to continue restraining Floyd and preventing bystanders from providing medical aid.

The judge wrote: "There is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Thao's actions were objectively unreasonable from the perspective of a reasonable police officer, when viewed under the totality of the circumstances."

He concluded: "Thao's actions were even more unreasonable in light of the fact that he was under a duty to intervene to stop the other officers' excessive use of force and was trained to render medical aid."

The sentence he handed down will run concurrently with Thao's three-and-a-half-year sentence for a separate conviction on a federal civil rights charge.

George Floyd was killed on May 25 2020 after an employee at Cup Foods called the police alleging he had used a fake $20 note.

Thao was charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020/
Thao was charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020/. Picture: Getty

Upon arrival, police handcuffed Mr Floyd and police officer Derek Chauvin then knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes to restrain him.

Chauvin did not stop despite Mr Floyd saying “I can’t breathe”, and bystanders pleading with the officer to get off him.

My Floyd was pronounced dead in hospital.

The following day police said Mr Floyd died following a “medical incident”, but after footage of the incident was shared online the FBI was asked to investigate and Chauvin, along with three others, were sacked.

Chauvin was convicted of all three charges of killing Mr Floyd, and was sentenced to life in prison.

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