Former police officer sentenced in the killing of George Floyd

August 7, 2023

Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao was sentenced to 57 months in prison, or 4.75 years, for aiding and abetting manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd.

Prosecutors had asked for a 51-month sentence against Thao, who was one of three officers convicted in federal court of violating Floyd’s civil rights.

The trio were on the scene and did not prevent then-fellow officer Derek Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes while detaining him in May 2020. Chauvin was sentenced to more than 20 years after pleading guilty to federal charges that he violated Floyd’s civil rights.

Despite his guilty plea, Chauvin has attempted to appeal his murder conviction.

Thao was the last of the four former officers to face judgment in state court in Floyd’s killing. He had rejected a plea agreement and in lieu of a trial allowed Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill to decide his verdict. 

“Thao’s actions were not authorized by law,” Cahill wrote in a 177-page ruling in early May. 

A nine-year veteran of the force, Thou held back a small crowd of bystanders while two other officers held Floyd down as Chauvin knelt on his neck. At the time, police suspected Floyd of paying with a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby store.

The killing of Floyd, a Black man, by Chauvin, a white police officer, was captured on a bystander’s video that went viral, igniting a wave of protests over racism and police brutality across the U.S. and around the world.

In 2021 Congress unsuccessfully attempted to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which aimed to increase accountability for police misconduct. While it was passed in the then-Democratic controlled House that year, it never got past debate in the Senate.

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