Demands for ‘justice’ are growing online for the three other officers involved with the death of George Floyd after Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder on Tuesday.
Former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – who were with Chauvin when Floyd was murdered last May – are scheduled to face a joint trial that begins on August 23.
Each of the men were fired after Floyd’s death and arrested – but all of them are free on $750,000 bail ahead of their trial on the charges that they aided and abetted second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Lane, 38, and Kueng, 27, were the first officers to arrive outside the Cup Foods store where Floyd was accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
J. Alexander Kueng, from left, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting Derek Chauvin, who has been convicted for the murder of George Floyd
Tou Thao stands, left, while Derek Chauvin, second left, presses his knee on Floyd’s neck murdering him. Former officers J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are also pictured
Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao is pictured in a video from the death of George Floyd
Former officers Derek Chauvin, foreground, as well as Thomas Lane are pictured in Tou Thao’s body camera footage
Former officers Kueng and Derek Chauvin are pictured on top of George Floyd in Thomas Lane’s body camera footage
Derek Chauvin, left, Kueng and Lane, center and right, are pictured while bystanders watch the murder of George Floyd outside of Cup Foods
Former officers Lane, top left, and Kueng, right, are seen interacting with George Floyd, bottom right
Kueng had graduated from the police academy in 2019 and started as an officer in December – just six months before Floyd’s murder.
During the fatal encounter, prosecutors said Kueng was between Chauvin and Lane, kneeling on Floyd’s back, with his hand on Floyd’s handcuffed left wrist.
After Floyd became unresponsive, it was Kueng who checked the right wrist for a pulse and said, ‘I couldn’t find one,’ prosecutors said in their complaint. None of the officers moved from their positions, the complaint said.
Lane, who arrived at the scene with Kueng, ordered Floyd out of his car and handcuffed him, prosecutors said. He had been on the police force for only a matter of days.
Chauvin, Kueng and Lane each used their weight to restrain Floyd on the ground after he balked at getting into the back of a squad car.
Lane was positioned on his legs, ‘kneeling on them and pressing them down with his hands,’ according to the complaint.
At one point, Lane asked, ‘Should we roll him on his side?’
Chauvin responded: ‘No, staying put where we got him.’
Lane then said, ‘I am worried about excited delirium or whatever,’ to which Chauvin said, ‘That’s why we have him on his stomach.’
People react on Twitter to the verdict of Derek Chauvin, calling for justice for the three other police officers involved in George Floyd’s murder
Thao, who had rejoined the force in 2012 after losing his job to layoffs as a rookie in 2009, arrived on the scene with Chauvin after Floyd had already been handcuffed.
Although Thao was the only one of the four officers who was not in physical contact with Floyd, prosecutors said he had a direct look at how Chauvin and the others were restraining him.
Thao stood watch over the onlookers who were gathering at the scene, keeping himself positioned between them and the three other officers who were on Floyd’s prone body.
When a bystander stepped off the curb, ‘imploring Chauvin to get off of Mr. Floyd, (Thao) put his hands on the citizen to keep him back,’ the complaint said.
The state’s Attorney General’s office will try to add a third-degree murder charge against them at a hearing at the Minnesota Court of Appeals scheduled for May 20, KARE reported.
MINNEAPOLIS: Former Minneapolis Police officer Tou Thao, right, arrives for a court hearing at the Hennepin County Government Center on July 21 on charges related to the murder of George Floyd
MINNEAPOLIS: Former police officer Thomas Lane arrives in court on charges related to the murder of George Floyd
MINNEAPOLIS: Former police officer Alexander Kueng arrives into court on charges related to the murder of George Floyd
Their trial had been split from Chauvin’s in January for COVID-19 safety protocols, the outlet reported.
Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts for which he was charged – second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter – after just 10 and a half hours of deliberation.
His quick conviction has caused some people online to speculate about the upcoming trial for the other officers.
‘We’re not done, there are still three defendants to go: aiding and abetting,’ @LauraAliaga2 tweeted.
Another Twitter user said: ‘Wonder how Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane are feeling tonight.’
‘Today’s Chauvin verdict cannot bode well for the other 3 officers involved,’ @mspoint1106 tweeted. ‘I’d wager that each of them is talking to their attorneys right now about entering into plea agreements.’
Another Twitter user, Pitt Griffin, tweeted: ‘Their future got a lot dimmer today.’
‘We decide where we go from here. This one cop in this one city is going to jail. We have demanded much more in the name of #georgefloyd. Let’s flip the system,’ lawyer S. Lee Merritt tweeted.
Other legal experts also reacted to the news in statements on Tuesday.
The American Bar Association said in a statement on Tuesday that it ‘respects the decision of the Minneapolis jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin.’
The ABA also emphasized ‘that a single verdict is neither an indictment of all law enforcement nor a solution to the systemic inequities in our justice system.’
‘Our society relies on the rule of law and the principle that laws must be applied and enforced fairly and without bias. A verdict may bring some justice, but it does not return George Floyd to his family,’ the statement reads.
‘While we have made great progress, the nation still must address the injustices, violence and racism that exist in our legal system that disproportionately and negatively affect people of color.’
Fordham Law professor Matthew Diller wrote in a letter to students that the conviction came as a ‘relief’ and it makes him ‘hopeful for our future.’
‘We have all been on edge these past two weeks as the trial has progressed. The prospect that a jury could have reached a verdict of acquittal, despite overwhelming evidence, is a reminder that our legal system still has a long way to go to prove itself worthy of calling itself a system of justice,’ Diller wrote.
‘The reality that a life could be taken in such a senseless and cruel way — a life that could be that of a son or daughter, a spouse, a parent, the life of any one of us — without any recourse is a devastating reality of our society. This is a reality that Black Americans live with every day.’
Diller said that the school would be providing counseling to students after ‘this trial has stirred very potent emotions.’
‘We are also planning a Dialogue Day where students, faculty, and staff will be invited to share their thoughts and feelings as a community,’ Diller wrote.
Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement that Chauvin’s verdict ‘is an acknowledgement that police officers cannot get away with murder.’
‘The killing of George Floyd was an appalling act of police violence that shocked and horrified millions of Americans and led to protests globally calling for racial justice and police accountability,’ she wrote.
‘We’ve all seen the sickening video of Derek Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd’s neck.’
She continued: ‘Today’s verdict is an acknowledgement that police officers cannot get away with murder, but we still have a long way to go to achieve the justice demanded by so many protesters in the last year.’
Huang said that ‘justice was done in this case’ but that Americans cannot ‘forget about the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson, among many others.’
‘But this case galvanized a movement for justice that has expanded across the country, rooted in longstanding demands for a reimagining of a criminal legal system built on anti-Black racism and white supremacy,’ she wrote.
‘Lawmakers at the state and federal level must begin holding officers accountable for police violence.’
The American Civil Liberties Union, nonprofit and nonpartisan legal and advocacy group, called for the Biden administration to work toward defunding the police.
‘We will never begin to achieve true justice for George Floyd until our country completely transforms public safety to save Black lives and reduce racist police violence,’ the ACLU tweeted.
‘The majority of people killed by police in America are killed in response to mental health crisis calls, traffic infractions, and other low-level offenses. Black people are arrested and killed by police at far higher rates than white people.’
The ACLU continued: ‘Armed police are not needed in these situations, and in fact increase violence and danger. Instead of using force, arrests, and preventable death, we can ensure that trained civilian professionals are our first responders.’
‘We need the Biden administration to publicly encourage cities nationwide to embrace alternative approaches to armed police officers and begin helping cities transition away from using police as the first and only responders.’