11 May 2022
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A judge has denied motions for acquittals and a mistrial from the three former Minneapolis police officers convicted of federal civil rights charges in George Floyd’s killing.
Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were found guilty of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care in February. Kueng and Thao were also found guilty of a federal charge accusing them of failing to intervene to stop fellow officer Derek Chauvin during the May 25, 2020, killing, which was was captured on bystander video that triggered protests worldwide and a reexamination of racism and policing.
After the federal trial, Thao, Kueng and Lane all moved for acquittals, and asked for a mistrial based on “prosecutorial misconduct.” Those motions were denied by Judge Paul Magnuson, according to a ruling filed Tuesday.
“Although the Court has grave concerns about the possibility that the jury’s verdicts were based on their fear of repercussions — social, political, and personal — from a different outcome, the evidence brought forth at trial supports the jury’s determinations,” Magnuson wrote of the motions for acquittal. “Because there was sufficient evidence from which the jury could have determined that Defendants acted willfully and that their actions were not reasonable, the Motions must be denied.”
Magnuson also wrote that “cases finding prosecutorial misconduct sufficient to warrant a mistrial are rare.”
“None of the instances of alleged misconduct to which Defendants point, taken individually or cumulatively, meets the high bar necessary for a mistrial on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct,” the court ruled.
Magnuson’s ruling does note that “the Court views the Government’s conduct in this case — not the least of which was assigning no fewer than seven prosecutors to try the case — as frighteningly close to that line of overzealous prosecution.”
“The Government’s prosecution here raises significant questions,” Magnuson wrote, “but those questions are for the executive branch, not the judiciary, to resolve.”
Thoa, Kueng and Lane will stand trial on state charges in June. They have yet to be sentenced for their federal convictions.