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Cop convicted in connection with George Floyd's death defiant, prayerful during sentencing: 'My conscience is clear. I will not ... betray my God.'
Composite screenshot of @PhilipDerrida X video (Left: Tou Thao | Right: Judge Peter Cahill)

Cop convicted in connection with George Floyd's death defiant, prayerful during sentencing: 'My conscience is clear. I will not ... betray my God.'

Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao remained defiant and prayerful during his sentencing hearing this week for his conviction in connection with the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

On Monday, Thao appeared in Hennepin County District Court to receive his sentence from Judge Peter Cahill, the same judge who convicted Thao of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in a bench trial more than three months ago. Thao, 37, had pled not guilty to the charge against him and insisted during his testimony at a trial for former Officer Derek Chauvin that he merely acted as "a human traffic cone" while others attempted to arrest Floyd.

Before Cahill issued his sentence, Thao was permitted to make a statement, and he used the opportunity to share his Christian faith and to deny once again that he had any culpability for Floyd's death.

"Scripture tells us that it is not good to go against your conscience," Thao stated. "And despite what this court has ruled, I know we cannot hide our thoughts or intent from God. For we must give an account on the day we appear before God.

"Therefore, I must obey," he continued. "To hold on to truth that I did not commit these crimes. My conscience is clear. I will not be a Judas nor join a mob in self-preservation or betray my God."

Thao then concluded his speech by offering to pray for anyone and everyone in need of prayer, including the judge. "Thank you, judge. God bless you," he said in closing.

Far from feeling touched by the sentiment, Judge Cahill seemed to be irritated by Thao's religiously charged remarks. "To be perfectly honest," Cahill began, "after three years of reflection, I was hoping for a little more remorse, regret, acknowledgement of some responsibility, and less preaching."

Cahill, who already determined that Thao's actions during Floyd's arrest were "objectively unreasonable" and "not authorized by law," stated on Monday that Thao deserved a longer sentence as befitting "an experienced senior officer who was in the best position to save George Floyd" but failed to do so.

Cahill ruled that Thao will serve a sentence of four years and nine months, less 340 days of time served, which exceeded the 51-month sentence recommended by prosecutors. Thao will serve the state sentence concurrently with a federal sentence of three and a half years for violating Floyd's civil rights.

When Cahill asked Thao whether he had any questions regarding his sentence, Thao responded, "No. God bless you, sir." Thao's attorney, Robert Paule, confirmed to reporters that his team intends to appeal the sentence but declined to comment further.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison appeared satisfied with the sentence Thao received. "Even though I am disappointed Thao expressed no remorse today and accepted no responsibility for his actions, his sentence is one more measure of accountability for the Floyd family and every community that suffered from Floyd’s murder," Ellison said in a statement. "It shows once again that no one is above the law and no one is beneath it."

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