Tou Thao, ex-MPD Officer, Convicted for Aiding and Abetting Second-Degree Manslaughter of George Floyd

On May 1, 2023, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill, after a trial on stipulated evidence, issued the Verdict that Tou Thao, a former MPD officer, “committed and is GUILTY of the offense of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in violation of Minn. Stat. [section] 609.05, Subd. 1, 609.205(1) in connection with the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 . . . and is hereby convicted of that offense.” [1]

In its 177-page Verdict, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Memorandum Opinion in Stipulated Evidence Trial, the Court’s summary of the key evidence on this charge stated the following:

  • “Thao actively encouraged his three colleagues’ [Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane] dangerous prone restraint of Floyd while holding back a crowd of concerned bystanders begging the officers to render medical aid. Thao knew, as the minutes passed and the restraint continue unimpeded, that Floyd had stopped talking and fallen silent, had stopped moving altogether, and had become totally unresponsive. In fact, by about six minutes into the restraint, Floyd stopped breathing, lost consciousness, and became pulseless.”
  • “Thao, Chauvin’s partner on that night, was an experienced Minneapolis police officer with almost a decade’s experience. He knew that the officers’ prone restraint could kill. Like the other officers, Thao had been trained specifically to turn an individual onto his side to avoid positional asphyxia, the very thing that several eminent medical specialists who testified at trial concluded caused Floyd’s death. Like the bystanders, Thao could see Floyd’s life slowly ebbing away as the restraint continued. Yet Thao made a conscious decision to actively participate in Floyd’s death: he held back the concerned bystanders and even prevented an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter from rendering the medical aid Floyd so desperately needed.”
  • “Thao also directly insisted upon continuing the restraint that took Floyd’s death that night. Soon after Floyd had been subdued prone on the street, Thao retrieved a device called a ‘hobble’ from Lane’s and Kueng’s squad. If properly employed, that hobble would have saved Floyd’s life. But Thao encouraged the other officers not to use the hobble and instead to ‘hold on’ and continue the physical restraint by which his three fellow officers were bearing down on Floyd, forcing him into the unyielding concrete of the street, drastically inhibiting his ability to breathe effectively. Thao’s stated reason? ‘If we hobble him, the sergeant is going to have to come out’ to complete the paper work for a ‘use of force review’ mandated by MPD policy whenever the hobble is employed. The short of it: Tou Thao did not want to follow the proper protocol and the work it would entail. George Floyd died as a result.”

Parties’ Attorneys’ Comments on this Verdict[2]

 After this Verdict was filed, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison stated, “The conviction of Tou Thao is historic and the right outcome. It brings one more measure of accountability in the tragic death of George Floyd. Accountability is not justice, but it is a step on the road to justice.”

Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, said he plans to appeal the verdict. “I respectfully disagree with the decision, and I think [the Judge] expands the doctrine of aiding and abetting beyond what we’ve seen [defined] at the appellate level.” His client was “disappointed. He really is.”


Now all four of the ex-MPD officers involved in the killing of George Floyd have been found guilty of state and federal criminal charges for same.



[1] Verdict, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Memorandum Opinion in Stipulated Evidence Trial, State v. Thao, Mn. Dist. Ct., Ct. File No. 27-CR-20-12949 (May 1, 2023); Walsh & Hyatt, Tou Thao, ex-MPD officer charged in George Floyd’s killing, found guilty, StarTribune (May 2, 2023); Karnowski (AP). Ex-officer Thao convicted of aiding George Floyd’s killing, AP News (May 2, 2023). Most of the prior developments in the state and federal criminal trials of the four ex-officers are covered in this blog’s previous posts. (See List of Posts to dwkcommentaries—Topical: George Floyd Killing.)

[2] Minnesota Attorney General Ellison. Tou Thao convicted of 2nd-degree manslaughter in murder of George Floyd (May 1, 2023).  This document included a similar statement by Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty.


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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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