By Jamila Bey
Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao was sentenced Wednesday to three-and-a-half years for violating George Floyd’s civil rights. His fellow officer J. Alexander Kueng received a three-year sentence.
A jury found in February that the officers deprived 46-year-old Floyd of medical care and the were negligent to not stop Derek Chauvin from kneeling on Floyd’s neck for some 9 1/2 minutes while Floyd struggled for air and cried out for his mother. Kueng and Thao were convicted of two counts of violating Floyd’s civil rights in the 2020 murder.
The officers weren’t mere bystanders to Chauvin’s actions. Kueng held Floyd’s back, former Officer Thomas Lane held his feet and Thao acted to block bystanders from intervening. Some of the people watching Floyd be killed in front of them recorded on cellphone video.
In addition to pleading guilty last year to violating Floyd’s civil rights, Derrick Chauvin was found guilty of violating the civil rights of a teenager in a separate case. He was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison. During the event that led to the death of George Floyd, Thomas Lane asked two different times if Floyd should be rolled onto his side so he could breathe. Lane was convicted of one count and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.
Kueng, who is Black, and Thao, who is Hmong American, still face a state trial to begin on Oct. 24. Lane, who is white, pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and is awaiting sentencing in that case.