Prosecutors, Floyd family respond to former MPD officers’ guilty verdict
Three former Minneapolis Police officers were found guilty on all charges Thursday afternoon for violating George Floyd’s civil rights, and reactions to the verdict are beginning to trickle in.
After 13 hours of deliberation, a federal jury convicted former officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao of depriving Floyd of his medical care as former officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020. Kueng and Thao were also convicted of failing to intervene.
In a press conference following the court’s adjournment, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Charles Kovats said, ” These officers had a moral responsibility, a legal obligation and a duty to intervene — and by failing to do so, they committed a crime.”
“This is a reminder that all sworn law enforcement officers, regardless of rank or seniority, individually and independently have a duty to intervene and provide medical aid to those in their custody,” Kovats said. “It’s a fundamental duty of policing.”
“George Floyd was a human being, he deserved to be treated as such,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney LeeAnn Bell. “My hope and the hope of my team is that today’s verdict will bring a measure of justice.”
Bell also thanked the bystanders for showing “so much courage.”
Floyd’s family also spoke out at the press conference.
“Today is a good day for us,” Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, said. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this did.”
Philonise Floyd stressed that the future will still but hard, as he “can’t get [his] brother back.” He called for the end to qualified immunity, no-knock warrants and for passage of the George Floyd Policing Act.
Brandon Williams, George Floyd’s nephew, said he’s had many sleepless nights.
“When these cameras go away, our pain don’t,” he said.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison provided a statement just before 5:30 p.m., saying that the verdict honored Floyd’s memory:
“Once again, the principle that no one is above the law and no one is beneath it has been upheld. This is not a celebratory moment, but it is an important one. The jury found that the defendants’ deprivation of George Floyd’s civil rights caused his death. The verdicts today vindicate the principle that officers have a duty and a responsibility to intervene and render medical care, and they affirm that it is a violation of federal law not to do so. I hope that law-enforcement departments all over the country will act to ensure that officers will intervene if they see illegal conduct by a fellow officer. That is an important part of the change that we need. These verdicts will help move us toward it.
I want to thank Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Charles Kovats, and the prosecutors who tried this case for fearlessly following the path of justice wherever it led. While these verdicts in themselves are not justice, they are accountability, and accountability is a step on the path of justice.”MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL KEITH ELLISON
National civil rights attorney Ben Crump, representing the legal team for George Floyd’s family, released a statement shortly after the jury read the verdict at about 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon:
“Today closes another important chapter in our journey for justice for George Floyd and his family. These officers tried to devise any excuse that could let them wash the blood from their hands, but following these verdicts George’s blood will forever stain them. Today’s guilty verdicts should serve as the guiding example of why police departments across America should expand and prioritize instruction on an officer’s duty to intervene and recognize when a fellow officer is using excessive force. With that being said, the existing policies were not on trial; rather, on trial were the human beings present when the breath was taken from an unarmed man right in front of them. Nothing will bring George Floyd back to his loved ones, but with these verdicts, we hope that the ignorance and indifference toward human life shown by these officers will be erased from our nation’s police departments, so no other family has to experience a loss like this.
“The Floyd family will have to relive the traumatic disregard for George’s life once again in June, when these officers will stand trial in state court. We hope, and we expect, that these officers will once again be held accountable for their lack of humanity.”BEN CRUMP LAW
The ACLU of Minnesota issued the following statement in response to the verdict:
“This verdict shows that every police officer involved in police violence is responsible for its outcome. It was clear Mr. Floyd had stopped breathing or moving. He had no pulse.
“Any of these officers could have saved George Floyd’s life. They had a duty to intervene, and they failed. They all are accountable for his death. George Floyd should still be alive today.
“This case highlights so many of the failures in our policing system. Officers targeted a Black man for disparate treatment and then used the debunked theory of ‘excited delirium’ to attempt to justify their horrifying act of violence. They used overwhelming and unnecessary force over a minor offense. MPD leaders appointed a training officer with a record of violence.
“Our law enforcement system is built upon racism, and we know reforms alone have never been enough to solve the problem. We must continue pushing to shift resources from traditional policing to community-based solutions like crisis response teams to keep everyone safe.”BEN FEIST, INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ACLU OF MINNESOTA
“We are grateful that today a jury found the other officers involved in George Floyd’s killing guilty for their roles in his death.
Nothing can erase the family’s pain of losing George, but they are hopeful that receiving another measure of justice will serve as a reminder that change is coming in this country.”JACARI HARRIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE GEORGE FLOYD MEMORIAL FOUNDATION