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Former Minneapolis cop gets the final sentence in the police killing of George Floyd

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

More than three years after the murder of George Floyd, a judge in Minneapolis has handed down the final sentence in the cases involving the killing. Former police officer Tou Thao received nearly five years in prison for his role. Matt Sepic of Minnesota Public Radio has the story. And we want to note this report contains audio captured by a witness to the killing.

MATT SEPIC, BYLINE: Tou Thao can be seen on a video recorded on May 25 of 2020 by a teenage witness. It shows Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck for 9.5 minutes while Thao repeatedly orders angry bystanders to keep away as they grow increasingly concerned.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Get off of his neck.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: You're still on him.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Yes. Look at that, bro.

TOU THAO: Get back on the street.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Are you serious?

THAO: Get back on the street.

SEPIC: The killing of Floyd, who was Black, sparked three days of rioting here in Minneapolis and racial justice protests around the world. Nearly a year later, a jury convicted Chauvin, who's white, of murder. He's serving more than 20 years in prison. Former officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who helped Chauvin restrained Floyd, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting manslaughter, are each serving concurrent state and federal sentences of about three years. Thao, who's already serving time on federal charges of violating Floyd's civil rights, refused a plea deal in the state case and was found guilty by Judge Peter Cahill. At his sentencing hearing this morning, Thao spoke for 23 minutes, quoting extensively from the Bible and maintaining his innocence.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THAO: I did not commit these crimes. My conscience is clear.

SEPIC: Judge Cahill sentenced Thao to nearly five years, a term slightly longer than what prosecutors requested.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETER CAHILL: I was hoping for a little more remorse, regret, acknowledgment of some responsibility and less preaching.

SEPIC: Thao will serve his sentence in federal prison. His defense attorneys say they'll appeal. For NPR News, I'm Matt Sepic in Minneapolis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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