George Floyd death: what do we know about the four police officers? Charges and backgrounds
Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao have been charged in relation to the murder of George Floyd. Here's some of what we know about them.
Four police officers: Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Four very different stories.
They ended up working together on Monday 25 May, after a 911 call came in from the Cup Foods Grocery store on Chicago Ave in Minneapolis when the staff suspected a customer had tried to purchase cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.
Lane and Kueng were first on the scene and arrested the suspect, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, who was unarmed. They handcuffed him and were attempting to put him in into their squad car when Chauvin and Thoa arrived.
What happened next was filmed by a bystander. The police officers held Floyd down, with Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, while he pleaded that he was unable to breath. Floyd eventually stopped speaking and went motionless. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
The four police officers were initially sacked and have now had criminal complants filed against them. Chauvin faces second-degree murder charges while the other three face charges for aiding and abetting the murder. The killing set off protests and demonstrations across America, that led to the White House being fenced off and curfews in tens of cities across the nation.
Here’s a summary of some of what we know about the four officers involved from their personnel files:
Chauvin, 44, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, while the 46-year-old pleaded that he could not breath. He was initially charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but was additionally charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday.
He was arrested last Friday and is being held in prison. His bail was increased to $1 million subsequent the increased charge of second-degree murder.
Chauvin had been a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department for nearly 19 years. He was initially hired as a community service officer in January 2001 and served for eight months before being promoted to police officer, according to his personnel files.
Prior to working for the police Chauvin said he’d worked in the military police. He is also said to have worked in the same nightclub, the Nuevo Rodeo, as George Floyd.
In his time as a police officer, Chauvin was the subject of 18 complaints, with two being “closed with discipline”.
According to the police files, Chauvin received a letter of reprimand and a notice of suspension over an incident in which a woman said Chauvin had pulled her from her car, searched her and put her in his squad car after pulling her over for going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. An investigator found he had no reason to take her out of her car.
Chauvin received recommendations that he receive a departmental medal of valour for his actions in two separate incidents: one involved shooting a man who aimed a shotgun at other officers, the other shooting a man suspected of violent domestic assault.
Chauvin’s wife filed for divorce after Floyd's killing.
Lane, 37, helped hold George Floyd down, along with J. Alexander Kueng, while Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. He was charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. He was arrested on Wednesday and is being held on bail of $1 million.
Lane joined the police in February 2019 as a cadet and was on his fourth day on the force when Floyd was killed. His lawyer, Earl Gray, said Lane was “doing everything he thought he was supposed to do as a four-day police officer”.
He earned a degree in criminology from the University of Minnesota in 2016 and went to work as a juvenile corrections officer for Hennepin County and as an assistant probation officer.
His previous work experience included bartender and server at various restaurants and a sales associate at Home Depot.
He had no history of complaints in his time with the police.
J. Alexander Keung
Keung, 26, helped hold George Floyd down, along with Thomas Lane, while Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. Keung was charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. He was arrested on Wednesday and is being held on bail of $1 million.
Keung also joined the police as a cadet in February 2019 and was hired as an officer in December. His lawyer, Thomas Plunkett, said he was on his third shift ever as as police officer when Floyd was killed. Plunkett also said Chauvin was Keung’s training officer (note that Chauvin arrived with Thao, not with the Keung, the officer he was said to be training).
According to his personnel file, he held a degree in sociology from the University of Minnesota. He had previously worked as an asset protection detective for Macy’s.
He had no prior complaints as a police officer.
Thao, 34, stood by the officers as they pinned Floyd to the ground. He was charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. He was arrested on Wednesday and is being held on bail of $1 million.
Thao joined the Minneapolis Police Department in 2012. Prior to that he worked as a security guard, a shelf-stacker at a grocery store and a McDonald’s trainer.
He had six complaints filed with police internal affairs. One complaint remains open, while the other five were closed without discipline,