Judge Scolds Cop for Lack of Remorse Over George Floyd

Tou Thao says he was nothing more than 'human traffic cone' as officers fatally restrained Floyd
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 7, 2023 11:22 AM CDT
Ex-Cop Gets Nearly 5 Years in George Floyd's Killing
Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao, left, and his attorney, Robert Paule, arrive for sentencing for violating George Floyd's civil rights outside the federal courthouse, July 27, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. Thao was the last former cop to face sentencing for his role in Floyd's killing.   (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP, File)

Tou Thao, the last former Minneapolis police officer convicted in state court for his role in the killing of George Floyd, was sentenced Monday to 4 years and 9 months—even as he denied wrongdoing. As the AP reports, Thao had testified that he merely served as a "human traffic cone" when he held back concerned bystanders who gathered as former Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd's neck for 9 1/2 minutes while the Black man pleaded for his life on May 25, 2020. At the sentencing hearing, Thao spoke at length about his growth as a Christian during his 340 days behind bars. He said he was "distressed" by Floyd's death but denied any role in it.

"I did not commit these crimes," Thao said. "My conscience is clear. I will not be a Judas nor join a mob in self-preservation or betray my God." Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill responded that he was hoping "for more than preaching" from Thao. "After three years of reflection, I was hoping for a little more remorse," the judge said. Thao's attorney, Robert Paule, said afterward that they will appeal. The sentence Cahill handed down Monday will run concurrently with Thao's 3 1/2-year sentence on his separate conviction on a federal civil rights charge, which an appeals court upheld on Friday. His state sentence was more than the 4 years recommended under Minnesota state guidelines.

Thao had rejected a plea bargain on the state charge, saying "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 Thao and former Officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng. That trial in federal court ended in convictions for all three. Chauvin pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges instead of going to trial a second time, while Lane and Kueng pleaded guilty to state charges of aiding and abetting manslaughter.

(More George Floyd stories.)

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