Tou Thao, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted by a Minnesota judge of second-degree manslaughter for his part in George Floyd’s death in May 2020, according to court documents.
Judge Peter Cahill stated in a 177-page decision that Thao “actively encouraged his three colleagues’ dangerous prone restraint of Floyd” despite being aware from prior training that such a position may result in deadly asphyxia.
The final of the four former cops standing trial in state court for the murder of Floyd was Tou Thao, who had already been found guilty in federal court of violating Floyd’s civil rights. He turned down a plea deal and, rather than having a trial, he let Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill make the decision based on the arguments made in written files by the parties and the evidence provided in earlier trials. His Monday decision was made public on Tuesday.
Thao’s actions were not authorized by law, There is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Thao’s actions were objectively unreasonable from the perspective of a reasonable police officer, when viewed under the totality of the circumstances,” Judge Cahill wrote.
The judge set the sentencing for August 7 and mandated a presentence probe. On the manslaughter count, Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines recommend a four-year sentence. He will serve both his 3 1/2-year federal sentence and his state-imposed term concurrently.
Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, killed Floyd, a Black man, after 9 1/2 minutes of fighting. The fading “I can’t breathe” pleas of Floyd were captured on bystander video. In April 2021, Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter; in the subsequent federal prosecution, he pleaded guilty in the federal case, two additional officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, were found guilty after entering guilty pleas to state charges of encouraging manslaughter.
Unlike the other three former cops, Thao insisted he did nothing unlawful. Last August, when presented with a plea bargain in state court, he rejected it, saying that “it would be lying” to admit guilt.