Three ex-Minneapolis policemen present at the death of George Floyd denied the unarmed black man of his civil rights, a jury has found.
The officers were charged with showing “deliberate indifference to [Mr. Floyd’s] serious medical needs” during the attempted arrest in May 2020.
Tou Thao, 36, J Alexander Kueng, 28, and Thomas Lane, 38, all testified in their own defense in the trial.
They said they did not realize Mr. Floyd needed medical care at the time.
Violating a person’s civil rights carries various punishments but prosecutors have recommended 25 years in federal prison for each man.
Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who was filmed kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, is currently serving a 22-and-a-half-year sentence.
Chauvin was found guilty of Mr. Floyd’s murder last April. He also pleaded guilty in December to his own federal civil rights charges as part of a plea agreement.
Video footage of the arrest shows Keung and Lane assisting Chauvin by helping to hold Mr. Floyd down. Thao, meanwhile, kept concerned bystanders away.
Over four weeks of testimony, prosecutors argued that “human decency and common sense” should have compelled the men to take action to prevent Mr. Floyd’s death.
“It wasn’t a split-second use of force like a gunshot. Not 30 seconds, not a minute, several minutes – 569 seconds,” said Assistant US Attorney Manda Sertich.
But lawyers for the defense claimed they were listening to a commander with seniority.
Chauvin was a field training officer to both Lane and Kueng.
When asked why he did not tell Chauvin to get his knee off Mr. Floyd’s neck, Officer Thao testified: “I think I would trust a 19-year veteran to figure it out.”
A 12-person jury deliberated for about 13 hours before returning their verdict on Thursday.
In June, the trio of defendants will be back, this time in state court, to face criminal charges for aiding and abetting Chauvin’s actions.