Three US cops found guilty of civil rights charges in George Floyd killing

25 February 2022, 08:52

Three US cops found guilty of violating George Floyd's civil rights
Three US cops found guilty of violating George Floyd's civil rights. Picture: Hannenin County Jail

By Stephen Rigley

Three US police officers have been found guilty of violating George Floyd's civil rights by failing to intervene or provide medical care when their senior office kneeled on the black man's neck for more than nine minutes.

Jurors convicted the trio of former Minneapolis police officers - Tou Thao, 35, J.Alexander Kueng, 28, and Thomas Lane, 38, - after two days of deliberations.

Federal civil rights violations that result in death are punishable by up to life in prison or even death, but those sentences are extremely rare, and federal sentencing guidelines suggest the officers will receive much less upon conviction.

The former officers are charged with depriving Floyd of his right to medical care when fellow Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the 46-year-old black man's neck for 9 1/2 minutes.

Kueng and Thao were also found guilty of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin during the May 25, 2020, videotaped killing that triggered worldwide protests.

Thao held back bystanders. Kueng and Lane helped restrain Floyd.  Lane, Kueng and Thao have been freed on bond until a separate trial in June on state charges alleging that they aided and abetted murder and manslaughter. 

During the month long trial, prosecutors sought to show that the officers violated their training, including when they failed to move Floyd or give him CPR.

Prosecutors argued that Floyd's condition was so serious that even bystanders without basic medical training could see he needed help.

Defence attorneys countered that the officers were too inexperienced, were not properly trained and did not wilfully violate Floyd´s rights.

Former officer Chauvin was convicted of murder last year in state court. In December, he pleaded guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights. He will serve 22 and a half years in prison.

The US District Court panel of eight women and four men, all of whom appeared to be white, announced their decision in the federal trial that has gone on for about a month on Thursday afternoon.

US District Judge Paul Magnuson, who oversaw the federal trial, ordered Wednesday that the names of the jurors be sealed for at least 10 years.All three men had pleaded not guilty. They each face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Lane is white, Kueng is black and Thao is Hmong-American. All three men also face a separate state trial in June on charges alleging they aided and abetted murder and manslaughter.

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