Trial of 3 Other Cops Is More Important Than Chauvin's

Paul Butler of Washington Post says convictions would dent the 'blue wall of silence'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2021 1:51 PM CDT
The Next Trial Is More Important Than Chauvin's
This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota shows, from left, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao.   (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murdering George Floyd. In August comes the trial of three other former Minneapolis officers who were at the scene—Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, all of whom are charged with aiding and abetting. If their trial feels like a lesser event compared to Chauvin's, think again, writes Paul Butler in the Washington Post. He makes the case that the trio's trial is even more important than Chauvin's "because it would punish a far more routine form of police misconduct: active support for, or pretending not to see, another officer abusing his or her badge." However, prosecutors will likely have a more difficult time getting convictions because of how the Floyd arrest played out.

Keung and Lane were rookie cops who will surely argue that they felt they needed to defer to the veteran Chauvin. Plus, both at times expressed concern about Floyd. Thao, meanwhile, didn't play a role in restraining Floyd but kept the growing crowd at bay. Butler notes that Thao even prevented an off-duty firefighter from intervening, reportedly with the words, "If you really are a Minneapolis firefighter, you would know better than to get involved." That sentiment is why any type of conviction, even one that results in a short prison sentence, is vital here, writes Butler. "It would be a step in dismantling the blue wall of silence under which first responders close ranks when they see another officer doing wrong." Read the full column. (Read more George Floyd stories.)

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