In May of 2020, people around the world were horrified by the videos shared of how former police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. What was just as horrifying, is the number of police officers who were on the scene who didn’t stop him. Now, every police officer who was involved in the murder are now being handed prison sentences.
All The Police Officers Involved In George Floyd’s Murder Will Now Go To Jail
In June 2021, the courts sentenced Derek Chauvin to 22 and a half years in prison for murdering George Floyd. The altercation all happened because a convenience store employee called the cops alleging that Floyd used counterfeit money to buy cigarettes. It ended with Chauvin kneeling on 46-year-old George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. This was despite Floyd being a handcuffed non-threat and was also despite bystanders begging Chauvin to get up. George Floyd, who begged the officer saying “I can’t breathe”, died right there on the street. (1)
Chauvin wasn’t only charged for the killing of George Floyd, however. For that crime, he received 21 years in prison. He was given more for the brutal arrest of a 14-year-old boy in 2017. His charges include second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Since Chauvin’s sentencing, the other three officers on the scene have also now been put on trial. These are former Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao. They are being put on trial for failing to stop Chauvin from kneeling on Floyd’s neck for so long. Each one was convicted. (2)
“All four officers involved in the tragic death of George Floyd have now been convicted in federal court, sentenced to prison, and held accountable for their crimes,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement Wednesday. “George Floyd’s death could have been prevented if these defendants had carried out their affirmative duty to intervene to stop another officer’s use of deadly force.”
Lane was the officer responsible for holding Floyd’s legs during the crime. The attorneys noted in the trial, however, that Lane was, in fact, the only officer to question Chauvin. He asked whether or not they should reposition Floyd because the man could not breathe. For this, his sentence is two and a half years in prison.
The other two officers, however, simply followed orders and didn’t do anything to even question what Chauvin was doing. Despite Floyd’s cries for help, they followed their senior officer’s orders and did nothing. For this reason, they both were charged with three years in prison.
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No More “Just Follow Orders”
For decades, American law enforcement officers have avoided facing the consequences of their actions by pleading that they were just “following orders”. They were not thinking about what was right or wrong, simply following the orders given to them because that is what they have been taught to do: Follow their senior officer’s orders. The sentencing of Lane, Kueng, and Thao is now changing that.
Their individual sentences show that officers will no longer simply be able to do whatever they want under the guise of “orders”. The court has stated that police officers are supposed to be protecting the rights of citizens and upholding the law. This includes their own personal conduct.
Each of the police officers involved in the George Floyd case knew that what was happening was wrong. They knew that Chauvin was using unnecessary force on the man. After all, he was already handcuffed, unarmed, and on the ground. Despite that, they did nothing. These sentences show that this kind of behavior will no longer be tolerated. While the sentencing of these former police officers will not bring back George Floyd, or any other victims of police brutality, it will help to bring some closure to the families left behind. Hopefully, it will also prevent this from happening in the future.
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