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US court convicts three ex-police officers on civil rights charges over Floyd murder
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US court convicts three ex-police officers on civil rights charges over Floyd murder

/ Americas

Issued on: 25/02/2022 – 01:04

File photo: Protesters stand outside of the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and US Courthouse before the civil trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights when they took part in his deadly arrest in St. Paul, Minnesota, US, January 24, 2022. © Eric Miller, Reuters

A jury found three former Minneapolis police officers guilty on Thursday of violating the civil rights of George Floyd, the African-American man whose May 2020 murder sparked nationwide protests.

Tou Thao, 36; J. Alexander Kueng, 28; and Thomas Lane, 38; were convicted after a month-long federal trial in Saint Paul, the sister city of Minneapolis, of showing “deliberate indifference” to Floyd’s medical needs.

Thao and Kueng were also convicted of failing to intervene to stop the use of “unreasonable force” against Floyd by a fourth officer, Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, who kneeled on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd for nearly 10 minutes until he passed out and died, was convicted of murder last year and is serving 22 years in prison.

Floyd’s arrest and death, which was filmed by a bystander in a video that went viral, sparked months of protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for 13 hours over two days before finding the three former officers guilty of all the charges against them.

Lane did not face the second charge of failing to intervene. Video of the arrest shows that on two occasions he suggested that Floyd be rolled over on his side.

Still face state charges

Thao, Kueng, Lane and Chauvin were the officers involved in the arrest of the 46-year-old Floyd for allegedly using a fake $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes.

While Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, Kueng was on his back and Lane held his legs. Thao kept back bystanders who were pleading with Chauvin to get off the visibly distressed Floyd.

In her closing arguments to the jury, prosecutor Manda Sertich said all three officers “knew that George Floyd couldn’t breathe, didn’t have a pulse and was dying.”

“Make no mistake, this is a crime,” Sertich said.

Lawyers for Kueng and Lane stressed that the two officers had been on the job for only a few days and deferred to Chauvin, a nearly 20-year veteran and the senior officer on the scene.

The defense attorney for Lane also noted that he asked Kueng to check Floyd’s pulse and administered CPR after an ambulance arrived.

Thao, who is Hmong American, Kueng, who is Black, and Lane, who is white, still face Minnesota state charges in connection with Floyd’s death in a trial that is scheduled to begin on June 13.

But in a sign of the importance of the case, federal prosecutors also charged the officers with violating Floyd’s constitutional rights.

(AFP)

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