Three former Minneapolis police officers were criminally charged on Wednesday in connection with the death of George Floyd in their custody, court records have shown.
The ex-cops, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane, had assisted Chauvin in arresting Floyd on Memorial Day on the suspicion that Floyd passed a counterfeit bill. They were charged with aiding and abetting murder.
Also, Derek Chauvin, a fourth former officer and the main culprit in the murder who had already been charged with third-degree murder in the case, will now be charged with second-degree murder, the records show.
Chauvin, who is white, was charged on Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after video footage emerged showing him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd, a black man, lay handcuffed, crying out that he could not breathe.
Floyd’s death has sparked widespread protests against police violence in dozens of cities across the country, with demonstrators and Floyd’s family calling for charges to be brought against Lane, Thao and Kueng.
The family also has demanded that Chauvin face a first-degree murder charge.
Ben Crump, an attorney for the family, said in a statement that the family’s reaction was that it was a “a bittersweet moment.”
Quincy Mason Floyd, George Floyd’s son, said in an interview on CNN after news of the charges broke: “We demand justice. My father shouldn’t have been killed like this. We want justice.”
A second-degree murder charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of 40 years upon conviction, compared to 25 years for third-degree murder.
Thao, Kueng and Lane are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The first count has a maximum possible sentence of 40 years in prison, while the manslaughter-related count has a 10-year maximum prison sentence.
Two separate autopsies, one commissioned by Floyd’s family and another performed by the Hennepin County, Minnesota, Medical Examiner’s Office, both found that Floyd’s death was a homicide, but differed in their determinations of its causes.
The Hennepin County medical examiner’s autopsy found that Floyd died from “cardiopulmonary arrest” that was complicated by police subduing him with restraint and neck compression. The autopsy also cited underlying health conditions as contributing to his death.
But the independent autopsy, conducted by pathologists hired by Floyd’s family, found that he died from asphyxiation and that pressure on both his neck and back contributed. Dr. Michael Baden, one of the pathologists and a former chief medical examiner for New York City, said Monday that Floyd “had no underlying medical problems that caused or contributed to his death.”
The criminal complaint against Chauvin details Kueng’s and Lane’s actions during Floyd’s arrest. According to the complaint, Kueng held Floyd’s back and Lane held his legs.
At one point, Kueng checked for a pulse and said “I couldn’t find one,” according to the complaint. But he and the other cops stayed in their positions for approximately two more minutes.
Floyd repeatedly told the officers that he could not breathe, cried out for his deceased mother, and asked the officers “please,” the complaint against Chauvin reads.
In all, Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, including for nearly three minutes after Floyd became nonresponsive.
Floyd’s death has sparked widespread protests against police violence in dozens of cities across the country.