Tou Thao, a former police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was found guilty of aiding and abetting the second-degree manslaughter of George Floyd in May 2020, according to court documents.
Judge Peter Cahill’s 177-page ruling states that Thao ignored his orders and encouraged his colleagues to use the dangerous, prone restraint on Floyd.
“Like the bystanders, Thao could see Floyd’s life slowly ebbing away as the restraint continued,” Cahill wrote in the verdict.
“Yet Thao consciously decided to participate in Floyd’s death actively: he held back the concerned bystanders and even prevented an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter from rendering the medical aid Floyd so desperately needed.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who led the prosecution of Floyd’s murder, said, “The conviction of Tou Thao is historic and the right outcome.”
“It brings one measure of accountability in the tragic death of George Floyd. Accountability is not justice, but it is a step on the road to justice,” Ellison declared.
Thao witnessed the incident and yelled at onlookers to keep their distance from the police, prosecutors said.
He blocked the crowd from aiding Floyd, who was pleading for air, and his mother.
Thao also mocked Floyd, falsely assuming that he was on drugs.
During his federal trial in 2022, Thao claimed his job was to manage the crowd and traffic after the other officers handled Floyd.
In response to questions from the prosecution, Thao insisted that he trusted Derek Chauvin, a 19-year veteran, to handle the situation rather than ordering him to take his knee out of Floyd’s neck.
Chauvin, Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng were all fired and eventually prosecuted for Floyd’s murder.
The courts found each guilty of various offenses.
In state court, a jury found Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
He received a 22.5-year prison sentence.
Additionally, he received a 21-year sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty to Floyd’s civil rights violations and another civil rights violation.
Both of his sentences are running simultaneously.
In federal court, Lane, Kueng, and Thao were found guilty of violating Floyd’s civil rights by failing to act when Chauvin restrained him.
Thao was found guilty on federal charges in February 2022 and has been in prison since then, serving a 3.5-year term.
Kueng and Lane were handed three and a half and three years in jail after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter in state prosecutions.
During the state case, Thao chose a stipulated evidence trial in October 2022. He opted not to have a jury decide his fate but rather to allow Judge Cahill to decide in light of the arguments made by both sides.