By: Christine Infantolino
As the largely debated topic of last year, George Floyd’s murder case is finally coming to a close with its trial coming up for the police officers involved. Prosecutor Samantha Trepel is against the police enforcement: J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. As police officers, sworn to protect and serve, part of their job is to help people in need who are dying, yet they are accused of standing by and abetting the death of George Floyd. Derek Chauvin kept his knee on his neck for over 9 minutes, which resulted in his death. The three officers are each charged with deprivation of rights under color of law for allegedly failing to give Floyd medical aid.
Following the release of the bystander video, all four officers were fired, arrested, and charged. According to a criminal complaint, Thao had been a cop for eight years, while Lane and Kueng were new to the scene. In December, Chauvin pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges for infringing on Floyd’s rights during his detention. In 2017, he pled guilty to denying the rights to him, a non-resisting adolescent in a separate federal case. Chauvin faces a sentence of 20 to 25 years in jail as part of the plea agreement, to be served with the other charges.
Defense attorneys justify the death saying it was a tragedy but was not under the responsibility of his clients. The three Minneapolis Police Officers were tried on January 25, at 10:30 A.M. The defendants’ attorneys each spoke for about a half an hour. Derek Chauvin’s attorney made the exact same claims they did in his state murder trial. Their main argument was that Floyd was on drugs, resisting arrest, and that it was justified for them to be scared and take action.
The prosecution said that the officers had insufficient training and that there was more to the story than the viral bystander video showed the public. Tou Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, said in his case that, “The fact that something ends tragically does not mean a crime has been committed.” George Floyd’s death had a lot of impact on the world, so it is important that there is finally a verdict and a conclusion drawn from this tragic experience. Protests against police brutality were seen across the country. Riots broke out, with blame and misunderstanding erupting across the country. These protests did not just spread in the United States, but cropped up globally. Black activists saw George Floyd’s death as a symbol for the final straw, prompting people to take action. Action was most certainly taken.
Now, a while later, things have changed drastically. Things have settled down, and justice will be restored. Derek Chauvin was sentenced 22.5 years, and people were excited to hear about the justice taken from the man who directly killed George Floyd. Although it has been a journey, the world is glad that Chauvin did not get off easy and has to pay his dues.
Update: On February 24th, 2022, the three Minneapolis Police Officers were convicted of Federal Civil Rights Violations in the death of George Floyd.