3 Minneapolis Cops Found Guilty of Violating George Floyd's Civil Rights

The jury in the federal trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights found them guilty Thursday after about 13 hours of deliberation.

The unanimous verdicts found Tou Thao, J. Alexander Jeung and Thomas Lane guilty for violating Floyd's civil rights by interfering with his rights to receive medical care when fellow officer Derek Chauvin was cutting off Floyd's air supply by kneeling on his neck.

Thao and Keung were also found guilty of violating Floyd's right to be free from unreasonable seizure by not intervening to stop Chauvin, whose actions ultimately cost Floyd his life.

The three men were not taken into custody following the guilty verdicts but were released per their bond. They are set to meet with their probation officers within the next week to being the pre-sentencing investigation. Violating a person's civil rights can carry up to life in prison or the death penalty, according to the Department of Justice, but federal sentencing guidelines suggest Thao, Jeung and Lane will each receive lesser sentences.

After the verdict, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump, and co-counsel Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms, released a statement: "Today closes another important chapter in our journey for justice for George Floyd and his family. These officers tried to devise any excuse that could let them wash the blood from their hands, but following these verdicts George's blood will forever stain them. Today's guilty verdicts should serve as the guiding example of why police departments across America should expand and prioritize instruction on an officer's duty to intervene and recognize when a fellow officer is using excessive force."

On May 20, 2020, Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for nine and a half minutes while he was face down on the street, struggling to breathe. The three men were charged with depriving Floyd of his right to medical care after failing to intervene while Lane also held Floyd's feet and Keung knelt on his back while Thao kept bystanders away from the situation, the Associated Press reported.

"You know he affirmatively chose not to do anything -- because you know what was going on in his head at that moment," said federal prosecutor Manda Sertich in closing arguments Tuesday in reference to Lane's suggestions for Chauvin to roll Floyd over. "He did nothing to give Mr. Floyd the medical aid he knew he so desperately needed."

During the trial, all three defendants testified in their defense. Lane said he asked twice if Floyd should be rolled over to help with his breathing. However, his suggestion was dismissed and Floyd was kept in that position because an ambulance was on the way. Keung testified that he trusted Chauvin's advice because he was his training officer who had influence over his career. Thao added he kept bystanders back but trusted the other officers were taking care of Floyd, the AP reported.

"Instead of tapping Chauvin on the shoulder, he would argue and belittle people asking him to do what the law requires, not to mention common decency and sense," Sertich said, referencing Thao.

Prosecutors argued the three former police officers had neglected their training when failing to roll Floyd onto is side or give him CPR. They also said Floyd's condition was so serious that even the bystanders without medical training noticed he needed help, the AP reported.

"It's not complicated. They did nothing to stop Derek Chauvin or to help George Floyd. You know it because you've seen it," the prosecution said in their closing arguments, according to KARE11.

But the defense argued in trial the officers deferred to Chauvin as their senior officer during the incident. Thomas Plunkett, Kueng's attorney, said he looked up to Chauvin, his former field training officer, and "relied on his personal experience," the AP reported. Plunkett previously emphasized in trial that Lane and Kueng were both rookies and fresh out of their Field Training Officer (FTO) program at the time of the incident, KARE11 reported.

The defense also argued that the Minneapolis Police Department's training was inadequate, and police officers weren't adequately trained on duty to intervene, the AP added.

"I'm not trying to say he wasn't trained," Plunkett said. "I'm saying the training was inadequate to help him see, perceive and understand what was happening here."

Meanwhile, Chauvin did not go to trial for his federal charges of violating Floyd's civil rights. He pleaded guilty in December and is awaiting sentencing. Prosecutors said they would recommend a sentence of 25 years which could be served concurrently with the 22 and a half years in prison he received for Floyd's death, the Washington Post reported.

After a month-long trial, the jury began their deliberations Wednesday morning. Judge Paul Magnuson previously dismissed juror number 52, a female social worker, from the panel on Tuesday without giving a reason, KARE11 reported. The jury was made up of eight women and four men, all of them white.

2/24/22, 6:30 p.m.: This story was updated with a statement from the Floyd family's attorneys, as well as information about sentencing guidelines.

George Floyd Civil Rights Case
FILE - This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on June 3, 2020, shows, from left, former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. The former policer officers are on trial in federal court accused of violating Floyd's civil rights as fellow Officer Derek Chauvin killed him. Judge Paul Magnuson abruptly recessed on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022 after one of the defendants tested positive for COVID-19. Hennepin County Sheriff's Office/AP Photo