The three former police officers will face trial on August 23 on charges that they aided and abetted convicted ex-cop Derek Chauvin in committing second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of George Floyd.
Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane looked on for the duration of the nearly 10 minute murder and prevented multiple witnesses from rendering aid to a suffocating George Floyd. Each was fired and later arrested days after Floyd was killed last May.
The charges and potential sentences are the same for each defendant. All could face prison sentences of up to 40 years should they be found guilty of aiding and abetting murder. It is possible that sentencing guidelines could reduce the maximum time in prison to 15 years.
The events unfolded when police were called on the complaint that George Floyd passed a counterfeit $20 bill at the Cup Foods store in Minneapolis. Officers Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were first on the scene. Lane had been on the force for just days. He was the one to order Floyd out of his vehicle. Kueng was a 2019 police academy graduate. He joined the force that December.
Derek Chauvin arrived with Tou Thao after the other officers had already handcuffed Floyd. Chauvin was a 19 year veteran of the force, and was authorized to train other police officers. Thao was a rookie in 2009 but was laid off in that same year. He rejoined the department and served since 2012.
ALEXANDER KUENG, 27
Prosecutors say Alexander Kueng was positioned between Chauvin and Lane, kneeling on Floyd’s back, and holding his hand on Floyd’s handcuffed left wrist.
Kueng checked Floyd’s right wrist for a pulse and said, "I couldn't find one," prosecutors said in their complaint.
THOMAS LANE, 38
When George Floyd protested being ordered into the back of a police car, Chauvin, Kueng and Thomas Lane each used their combined weight to press Floyd on the ground. According to the complaint, Lane was in control of Floyd’s legs, "kneeling on them and pressing them down with his hands."
TOU THAO, 35
Tou Thao, arrived on the scene with Chauvin after Floyd had already been handcuffed. Although Thao was the only of the four officers not in physical contact with Floyd, prosecutors said he could clearly see the danger Floyd faced as Chauvin and the other police officers restrained him.
Thao used his own body to maintain distance between onlookers and the other officers. At one point, according to the complaint, when a bystander pleaded that Chauvin release Floyd, Thao placed “his hands on the citizen to keep him back.”
The former officers will be tried together. Each is currently free on $750,000 bail.
(Photos: Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images)