A Minnesota state court Monday convicted former police officer Tou Thao of aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Thao was one of the four police officers present at the 2020 arrest that resulted in Floyd’s death. Unlike the other officers, Thao did not participate in holding Floyd down, but instead held back bystanders, preventing intervention.
Judge Peter Cahill argued that this involvement was more than enough to qualify as aiding and abetting. Cahill said:
Like the bystanders, Thao could see Floyd’s life slowly ebbing away as the restraint continued. Yet Thao made a conscious decision to actively participate in Floyd’s death: he heled back the concerned bystanders and even prevented an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter from rendering the medical aid Floyd so desperately needed.
Cahill also noted that Thao actively encouraged the other officers not to use a “hobble,” a restraint device used by police in lieu of handcuffs. While one of the other officers had asked Thao to retrieve the hobble, Thao encouraged them to continue holding Floyd down instead. Thao stated his reasoning as being that the use of a hobble required a sergeant to come to the scene and do paperwork. Had the hobble been employed, Floyd’s life might have been saved.
As Cahill stated, “The short of it: Tou Thao did not want to follow the proper protocol and the work it would entail. George Floyd died as a result.”
This verdict comes only a few weeks after a Minnesota appeals court affirmed the ruling against Derek Chauvin, the officer primarily responsible for Floyd’s death. A Minnesota court previously sentenced Chauvin to 22.5 years in prison for the death of Floyd and an additional 21 years for federal civil rights violation. The other officers at the scene–J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane–both struck plea deals with the state to avoid trial.
Thao declined to take a plea and waived his right to trial by jury. Thao was already sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison in July 2022 for violating Floyd’s civil rights in his failure to intervene. While Thao’s sentencing has yet to take place, aiding and abetting has a presumed sentence of 12.5 years.