Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by the Minneapolis Police Department and the City of Minneapolis
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Justice Department announced today that former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao, 36, was sentenced to serve 42 months in prison, and former Minneapolis Police Officer J. Alexander Kueng, 28, was sentenced to serve 36 months in prison, for depriving George Floyd Jr. of his constitutional rights.
On Feb. 24, 2022, following a trial that lasted nearly five weeks, a federal jury in St. Paul, Minnesota, found Thao and Kueng guilty of depriving Floyd of his constitutional right to be free from an officer’s unreasonable force when each willfully failed to intervene to stop former Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Officer Derek Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force. The jury also found that Thao and Kueng deprived Floyd of his constitutional right to be free from a police officer’s deliberate indifference to serious medical needs when they saw Floyd restrained in police custody in clear need of medical care and willfully failed to aid him. The jury further found that both of these offenses resulted in Floyd’s bodily injury and death. Both offenses are violations of the federal criminal civil rights statute that prohibits willful violations of civil rights by a person, such as a police officer, acting in an official capacity.
The same jury also found former MPD Officer Thomas Lane guilty of depriving Floyd of his constitutional right to be free from a police officer’s deliberate indifference to Floyd’s serious medical needs, resulting in bodily injury to Floyd and his death. On July 21, 2022, Lane was sentenced to 30 months in prison for this offense.
Former Officer Derek Chauvin previously pleaded guilty to depriving Floyd and a then-14-year-old child of their constitutional rights in violation of the same federal statute. On July 7, 2022, Chauvin was sentenced to 252 months in prison for those crimes.
“All four officers involved in the tragic death of George Floyd have now been convicted in federal court, sentenced to prison, and held accountable for their crimes,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “George Floyd’s death could have been prevented if these defendants had carried out their affirmative duty to intervene to stop another officer’s use of deadly force. While these defendants have now been held accountable, law enforcement officers and leaders must take seriously the affirmative duty under the Constitution to intervene to stop misconduct by fellow officers and the duty to render medical aid. The federal prosecution of all officers tied to the death of George Floyd should send a clear and powerful message that the Department of Justice will never tolerate the unlawful abuse of power or victimization of Americans by anyone in law enforcement.”
“Former officers Thao and Kueng each had an individual duty and opportunity to intervene in the excessive force that resulted in the agonizing death of Mr. Floyd, but both men failed to take any action,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger. “These sentences reaffirm that every law enforcement officer, whether rookie or senior, has an affirmative duty to protect individuals in their custody.”
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Samantha Trepel and Trial Attorney Tara Allison of the Civil Rights Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samantha Bates, LeeAnn Bell, Evan Gilead, Manda Sertich and Allen Slaughter of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota.