Three former police officers involved in the controversial arrest of George Floyd have been found guilty of violating Floyd’s civil rights in a federal trial.
J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were convicted on Thursday, NBC News reported.
Thao and Kueng were additionally convicted of failing to intervene to prevent the use of excessive force against Floyd.
Floyd died during a May 2020 arrest in which Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Chauvin has since been convicted of murder in Floyd’s death.
The officers had responded to a 911 call from a Minneapolis business that suspected Floyd of using a fake $20 bill.
All three officers — since fired from the Minneapolis Police Department — had pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.
The men could face sentences of life in prison, but such a punishment is unlikely, according to NBC.
The three also face a Minnesota state trial for aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in connection to Floyd’s death.
“They chose not to aid George Floyd, as the window into which Mr. Floyd’s life could have been saved slammed shut,” prosecutor Manda Sertich said.
Sertich said the officers “chose to do nothing” and that they had “front-row seats” to Floyd’s death.
Defense lawyers for the former cops argued that they were in no position to control Chauvin, who had the most policing experience of all the officers at the scene.
Thao engaged in crowd control, with Keung and Lane helping to restrain Floyd.
Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, argued that his client’s police training was “inadequate to help him see, perceive and understand what was happening [during the arrest].”
Thao’s lawyer argued that the officer’s involvement in the incident didn’t amount to a crime.
“Just because something has a tragic ending does not mean it’s a crime,” Robert Paule said.
At one point, Lane’s attorney said he asked Chauvin if he intended to place Floyd on his side for safety purposes, only for Chauvin to ignore him.
During his own testimony, Lane choked back tears as he recounted helping paramedics treat Floyd after he lost his pulse.
Floyd’s death sparked nationwide anti-police protests and riots that resulted in over $1 billion in damages.