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Another ex-cop convicted in death of George Floyd
Composite screenshot of WCCO-TV YouTube video (Featured: Tou Thao)

Another ex-cop convicted in death of George Floyd

The last of the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd almost three years ago has been convicted in state court.

On Monday night, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill filed a 177-page verdict announcing that he had found former Officer Tou Thao guilty of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Thao, who kept bystanders at bay while Officer Derek Chauvin restrained Floyd, acted in an "unreasonable" manner, Cahill determined.

"Thao’s actions were not authorized by law," Cahill 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."

Rather than face a jury trial, Thao opted to place his fate in the hands of Cahill, who had already presided over Chauvin's murder trial. Prosecutors agreed to drop the more serious charge — aiding and abetting murder — against Thao if he were convicted of a lesser charge. Thao, 37, will be sentenced in August and likely faces about four years in prison for the state conviction.

"The conviction of Tou Thao is historic and the right outcome," said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who also helped prosecute Chauvin. "It brings one more measure of accountability in the tragic death of George Floyd. Accountability is not justice, but it is a step on the road to justice."

In addition to the state conviction, Thao has already been convicted by a federal jury, which determined that he had denied Floyd his civil rights in failing to stop Chauvin's reportedly excessive restraint. In February 2022, Thao was sentenced to three and a half years in federal prison for that crime.

Throughout the legal processes against him and fellow officers Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane, Thao has repeatedly claimed that he did nothing wrong on May 25, 2020, the day Floyd died. Thao called himself merely "a human traffic cone" charged with keeping the peace while others tended to Floyd. Robert Paule, Thao's attorney, argued, "Every one of Thao’s actions was done based upon the training he received from the Minneapolis Police Department."

Cahill dismissed those arguments in his ruling. "[I]t was objectively unreasonable to (among other things): encourage fellow officers to engage in a dangerous prone restraint for 9 minutes and 24 seconds; encourage those officers not to use a hobble; actively assist their restraint by acting as a 'human traffic cone'; and prevent bystanders from rendering medical aid," Cahill wrote.

In 2021, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to more than 22 years in prison. He also pled guilty to federal charges. Kueng and Lane both pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter as well as to the federal charges against them. Their total sentences are expected to be slightly shorter than Thao's.

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News. She has a Ph.D. in Shakespearean drama, but now enjoys writing about religion, sports, and local criminal investigations. She loves God, her husband, and all things Michigan State.
@cortneyweil →