A former Minneapolis police officer who held back the crowd during George Floyd's murder was convicted Monday on state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter for his role in the killing.
Tou Thao's actions "were objectively unreasonable from the perspective of a reasonable police officer, when viewed under the totality of the circumstances," Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill wrote in his verdict. Thao was the last of four former police officers facing criminal charges in the May 2020 death of Floyd, who died after former officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground and knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. In an eyewitness video, Thao can be seen holding back a crowd of concerned bystanders as Floyd repeatedly says, "I can't breathe."
Floyd's death sparked global outrage and renewed calls for racial justice. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and later pleaded guilty to federal charges, while two other officers involved in the situation pleaded guilty to state charges of aiding and abetting manslaughter.
Prosecutors had alleged that Thao "acted without courage and displayed no compassion" despite having nine years of training, The Associated Press reported, an allegation that the judge agreed with.
Cahill wrote that Thao "actively encouraged his three colleagues' dangerous prone restraint of Floyd" despite Minneapolis police training that the position could cause asphyxia. "Like the bystanders, Thao could see Floyd's life slowly ebbing away as the restraint continued," Cahill said. "Yet Thao made a conscious decision to actively participate in Floyd's death: he held back the concerned bystanders and even prevented an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter from rendering the medical aid Floyd so desperately needed."
Thao is already serving a three-and-a-half-year federal sentence after being convicted of violating Floyd's civil rights. His sentencing for Monday's conviction is scheduled for Aug. 7.