Former Minneapolis officer Tou Thao sentenced to 4 years, 9 months in prison for 2020 death of George Floyd

Tou Thao had testified that he was a "human traffic cone."

On Monday, former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao was sentenced to 4 years, 9 months in prison for his role in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Floyd's death, for which three other now former officers have also been convicted, sparked riots that spread across the country for months.

Tou Thao had testified that he was a "human traffic cone," and was holding back pedestrians who gathered at the scene as then-officer Derek Chauvin, subdued Floyd. The cashiers at a local store had called police on Floyd after claiming he tried to pass a counterfit bill.

In May, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who also presided over the trial of Chauvin, found Thao guilty of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Essentially, Thao was found guilty of not saving Floyd's life.

Monday’s sentence will run concurrently with Thao's three and a half year sentence on his separate conviction on a federal civil rights charge. Last week, the US Court of Appeals denied Thao's appeal in that case. 

Before the sentencing was decided, Thao said he was "distressed" in prison over the "false narratives" surrounding the case and that he had been reading the Bible and told the judge, "Repent means changing of mind, changing of doing your will to God’s will. This is what repentance means. It’s kind of unpopular today. It’s kind of a bad word now. We insist Jesus do all of the dying without surrendering our whole heart to do His will.” 

He added, "God tells us in Romans and Psalms that no one is good, not one. For me, I thought I was good enough, but I was deceived. The Pharisees and the scribes. The Pharisees were religious and political leaders. The scribes are loyal teachers. They demonstrate the example of fallen man’s nature.” 

Thao continued, "They were fearful they would lose their power and influence and the security of their way of life. If Jesus becomes the power their way of their life would be gone. Jesus essentially became a political prisoner. For them, it was better one man than the whole nation." 

Cahill responded, "I was hoping for a little more remorse, regret, acknowledgment of some responsibility. And less preaching." 

"And I'm not going to rehash all the facts from my order," the judge continued, "in which I found that the things you did and the things you didn't do make you guilty of this crime. I'm not going to rehash all that. Suffice it to say, that I think your culpability is less than Mr. Chauvin but well above Mr. Keung and Mr. Lane, as an experienced senior officer was in the best position to save George Floyd."

Thao will also be prevented from owning firearms for the duration of his life.
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