The Convictions of 3 Cops Who Failed To Prevent George Floyd’s Death Underline the Duty To Intervene
Three former Minneapolis police officers were convicted in federal court yesterday of failing to intervene or render medical aid as their colleague, Derek Chauvin, killed George Floyd by pinning him face-down to the pavement for nine and a half minutes on May 25, 2020. After deliberating for about 13 hours, the jury concluded that Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao had violated 18 USC 242 by depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights under color of law. Because the jury also concluded that Floyd’s prolonged prone restraint caused his death, the three defendants could face lengthy prison sentences.
Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering Floyd last April, is serving a state sentence of 22.5 years. He pleaded guilty in December to violating the same federal law under which Lane, Kueng, and Thao were charged. The focus of the case against them was not what they did that day but what they failed to do. Their convictions send a powerful message about the legal peril for police officers who ignore their duty to stop colleagues from using excessive force.
The encounter that led to Floyd’s death began when Lane and Kueng, both of whom were in their first week as full-fledged police officers, arrested him for using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at Cup Foods, a restaurant and convenience store on Chicago Avenue. Chauvin, a 19-year veteran who had been Kueng’s training officer, arrived as the two rookies were unsuccessfully trying to force a distraught Floyd into the back seat of their squad car.
After Chauvin took charge, Floyd was handcuffed and forced to lie on his stomach as Chauvin knelt on his neck, Kueng applied pressure to his back, and Lane held his legs. He remained in that position until he died, after complaining, over and over again, that he could not breathe. Thao, meanwhile, was charged with keeping a group of concerned bystanders away from Floyd and the other three officers. A bystander video of the incident provoked bipartisan outrage, nationwide protests, and the four officers’ dismissal.
Since the charges against Lane, Kueng, and Thao alleged that they “willfully” deprived Floyd of his rights, one of the issues in the trial was whether they knew that Chauvi
Article from Reason.com