Court of appeals upholds Thao's federal civil rights conviction

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao arrives at the US District Court in St. Paul on Jan. 11
Kerem Yucel | Getty Images 2022

A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao for his role in the killing of George Floyd.

Thao — who can be seen on video keeping concerned bystanders at bay as Derek Chauvin kneels on Floyd's neck for 9 and a half minutes — was convicted last year of two federal felony counts of depriving Floyd of his civil rights.

He was later sentenced to serve three and a half years. Thao filed an appeal to the Eighth Circuit asking for a new trial. The court found no evidence that Thao was deprived of a fair trial, and in a ruling filed Friday affirmed his conviction. 

Thao was also convicted of state charges in Floyd's death. He is scheduled to be sentenced for that conviction on Monday.   

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Unlike his co-defendants — Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng — Thao declined a plea deal on the state charges. He also waived his right to a jury trial and opted to have Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill decide the case. 

In May, Cahill convicted Thao of aiding and abetting manslaughter, writing that his actions allowed the others to continue restraining Floyd. 

All four ex-officers were convicted in federal court of violating Floyd's civil rights. Kueng and Lane are serving terms of around three years concurrent with their state sentences.  

Chauvin is serving more than 20 years at a medium security federal prison in Tucson.