The fourth and final former Minneapolis cop has been sentenced to 57 months in prison for his role in the 2020 killing of George Floyd.
The sentence handed to Tou Thao, 37, by the county judge was six months longer than the sentence proposed by Minneapolis prosecutors.
‘I was hoping for a little more remorse, regret, acknowledgment of some responsibility. And less preaching,’ Judge Peter Cahill said to Thao during sentencing on Monday.
It comes three months after Thao, a nine-year veteran of the force, was found guilty of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Thao testified that he served as a ‘human traffic cone’ when he held back concerned bystanders who gathered as fellow officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly ten minutes – ultimately killing him.
The fourth and final former Minneapolis cop, Tou Thao, has been sentenced to 57 months in prison for his role in the 2020 killing of George Floyd
Kueng and his fellow officers Tou Thao and Thomas Lane were previously found guilty of violating Floyd’s civil rights by not intervening when Chauvin kneeled on the back of Floyd’s neck. All four are pictured during the incident in 2020
Thao was also sentenced last year to three and a half years over federal charges that he deprived Floyd of his civil rights. Cops involved in Floyd’s killing have faced federal and state charges – both incur prison time but can be served concurrently.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and other prosecutors handling the state charges had asked the judge to sentence Thao to 51 months in prison.
In his 177-page ruling, Cahill said Thao’s actions separated Chauvin and two other former officers from the crowd, including an emergency medical technician, allowing his colleagues to continue restraining Floyd and preventing bystanders from providing medical aid.
‘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,’ Cahill wrote.
He concluded: ‘Thao’s actions were even more unreasonable in light of the fact that he was under a duty to intervene to stop the other officers’ excessive use of force and was trained to render medical aid.’
Lawyers for Thao were not immediately available for comment on Monday.
Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder in 2021. The other two officers, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, restrained Floyd’s knees and buttocks while Chauvin knelt on his neck.
Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao (left) and his attorney arrive for sentencing for violating George Floyd’s civil rights outside the federal courthouse in July, 2022
Thao was also sentenced last year to three and a half years over federal charges that he deprived Floyd of his civil rights
Minneapolis police engaged in a pattern of violating constitutional rights and discriminating against black and Native American people following an investigation prompted by the killing of George Floyd (pictured)
Last year, Lane (right) and Kueng (left) pleaded guilty in state court to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Lane was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, while Kueng was sentenced to three years
Thao previously rejected a plea bargain on the state charge, claiming ‘it would be lying’ to plead guilty when he didn’t think he was in the wrong.
He instead agreed to let Cahill decide the case based on evidence from Chauvin’s 2021 murder trial and the federal civil rights trial in 2022 of Lane and Kueng.
Last year, Lane and Kueng pleaded guilty in state court to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Lane was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, while Kueng was sentenced to three years.
At a federal trial last year, Kueng and Lane were also found guilty of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Lane was sentenced to two and a half years and Kueng to three years in federal prison, to run concurrently with the state sentence.
Chauvin was sentenced to 22 and a half years in state prison for the unintentional second-degree murder of Floyd. Last year, he also received a concurrent sentence of 21 years in prison on federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Minnesota inmates generally serve two-thirds of their sentences in prison and one-third on parole. There is no parole in the federal system but inmates can shave time off their sentences with good behavior.