Does this video show a cop aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd? – Reason.com
Lawyers representing former Minneapolis cop Tou Thao, who is accused of aiding and abetting the second degree murder of George Floyd, Argue that his role in the May 25 incident, which sparked nationwide protests, was too secondary to warrant the accusation. Recently posted video Thao’s body camera sheds light on this claim, showing that he has stubbornly dismissed the concerns of increasingly alarmed passers-by, repeatedly refused to intervene on Floyd’s behalf or verify his well-being, and physically prevented pedestrians from approaching Floyd while he was pinned to the sidewalk in a prone position.
The 22 minute video begins when Thao, who was hired by the Minneapolis Police Department in 2012, and his partner, Derek Chauvin, hired in 2001, arrive at Cup Foods, the store where Floyd allegedly attempted to make a purchase with a fake $ 20 bill. $. The arresting officers, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, both new to the police department, attempt to force a panicked and resilient Floyd, who calls himself claustrophobic and asks to get in the front seat, in their police car. “I’m not a bad guy,” he says. “Please… I can’t breathe. “
Floyd fell or got out of the car into the street, saying, “I’m going to lie on the ground.” After a few more difficulties, this is where he finds himself, handcuffed and face down as Chauvin kneels on Floyd’s neck. Lane and Kueng help him stay on the ground by applying pressure to his legs and back, respectively. “I can’t breathe,” Floyd said over and over, crying for his mother. “Please … I’m about to die.” During Floyd’s struggle and subsequent restraint, the three officers repeatedly dismiss his complaints that he has trouble breathing, saying that the fact that he is still talking shows that he is taking in a lot of air.
Thao – who first seems to shed some light on the situation, saying “that’s why you don’t do drugs, kids” – echoes the assurance of his colleagues as he takes on six to 10 spectators , several of whom express concern about Floyd. “He’s talking, so he’s fine,” Thao told them.
“He’s not doing well,” replies a passer-by who says he trained at the police academy, suggesting that Chauvin’s “jiu-jitsu” maneuver is obstructing Floyd’s breathing. “That’s bullshit bro. You stop his breathing right there, bro.”
Thao reiterates that “he speaks”, saying: “It is difficult to speak if you are not breathing”. The passer-by says the cops should “get him off the ground” and berates Thao for not intervening.
“Is he talking now?” A woman recording the meeting on her cell phone asks about five minutes after Chauvin begins to kneel on Floyd’s neck. “Look at him. Brother, get the hell out of him.” The spectator who spoke first complains again about Thao for not having done anything. “You’re a bum for that, my brother,” he said, asking for Thao’s badge number. When the guy walks into the street, Thao tells him to come back to the sidewalk. He gives the same order to other passers-by coming down the sidewalk.
A woman approaches Thao, identifying herself as a Minneapolis firefighter. “You should check that he’s okay then,” said the man who spoke earlier. “He’s not responsive. Thao orders the firefighter to get off the street. “Does he have a pulse? She asks standing on the sidewalk. “Check a pulse. Let me see a pulse. The man who asked for Thao’s badge number reiterates this suggestion. “The man hasn’t moved yet,” he notes. Both are becoming more and more insistent. “Check his pulse now and tell me what it is!” Said the firefighter.
“I’m busy trying to deal with you guys right now,” Thao says. When the store owner’s son takes to the streets worried about Floyd’s condition, Thao pushes him away. Thao responds to strong criticism of his inaction by saying, “If this makes you feel good about yourself, go for it.”
From the initial criminal complaint Against Chauvin, he knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, twice rejecting Lane’s suggestion to roll him onto his side. After five minutes, Floyd “stopped moving”. A minute later, “the video appears to show Mr. Floyd ceasing to breathe or speak.” Even after Kueng checked Floyd’s pulse and said he couldn’t find one, Chauvin remained in position, eventually withdrawing his knee two minutes later when an ambulance arrived.
It is not known exactly how much of this Thao directly observed. But he had amply warned that the force used by his colleagues could prove fatal. Instead of taking this concern seriously, like Lane and Kueng, he turned to Chauvin, a 19-year-old veteran who was the senior officer at the scene.
Is that enough to convict Thao for complicity second degree murder (or, alternatively, help and encourage second degree manslaughter, a lower charge against Chauvin)? The charges against Thao alleges that he “intentionally aided” in either second degree murder or second degree manslaughter. If convicted, he could face the same sentence that applies to these crimes – up to 40 years and 10 years in prison, respectively.
Thao’s lawyers Argue that he did not know that the other officers were committing a crime, let alone that he was taking action “to prosecute the commission of this crime”. They will likely say that he was so focused on controlling passersby that he was unable to make an independent judgment on the legality of the conduct of other officers.
According to Associated Press, Thao “told investigators his job was to secure the premises and he could not” be in two places at the same time. “
[This post has been updated with additional information about the charges against Thao.]