Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao ignored bystanders who pleaded for someone to help George Floyd as Derek Chauvin knelt on him, according to prosecutors.
In closing arguments on Tuesday — part of a month-long federal trial — prosecutors concluded that Thao, along with J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, all “chose to do nothing” in the moment of Floyd’s plight, which eventually led to his death on May 25, 2020.
All three former officers are charged with “depriving Floyd of his right to medical care,” according to the Associated Press. Additionally, Thao and Kueng are charged with “failing to intervene to stop Derek Chauvin,” who was convicted of Floyd’s murder last April.
While ignoring the bystanders, Thao watched as Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, prosecutors said. Chauvin, who was a more senior officer, was sentenced to 22 years and six months last June.
In his testimony on Tuesday, Thao confirmed that he was unable to help because he was trying to control the crowd. His attorney, Robert Paule, argued that Thao’s action or inaction does not fit the legal definition of “willful,” which requires a “bad purpose” or “improper motive.”
The prosecution also singled out Kueng and Lane for their roles in the incident, saying Kueng was “laughing with Chauvin” during Floyd’s ordeal and even had time to “casually pick gravel out of the tire in front of him,” as per KARE 11. Meanwhile, Lane, who held Floyd’s legs, “did nothing” to give the medical aid he knew Floyd needed, prosecutors alleged. Lane testified that he asked twice whether Floyd should be rolled on his side only to be rebuffed by Chauvin.
Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, argued that his client was improperly trained and deferring to Chauvin, who was his former field training officer, reported KARE 11.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, highlighted his client’s attempt to help revive Floyd after paramedics arrived, taking to Twitter to say, “Any reasonable person should just be disgusted. Infuriated,” referring to the fact that Lane was still charged.
Prosecutor Manda Sertich said all three officers failed to act from the moment Floyd had become unresponsive to the arrival of paramedics, a period that lasted for two and a half minutes. She said Thao and Kueng, in particular, made “not one statement, not one gesture, not one physical intervention” despite the many opportunities they had, the New York Daily News reported.
The jury, which AP reports is seemingly all white, is expected to begin deliberations today after a juror, who reportedly appeared to be Asian American, was dismissed on Tuesday for unknown reasons.
Featured Image via Darnella Frazier