24 October 2022

Former police officer pleads guilty over George Floyd’s death

24 October 2022

Another former Minneapolis police officer has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd.

In exchange for J Alexander Kueng’s guilty plea just as jury selection was to begin, a count of aiding and abetting second-degree murder will be dismissed.

Kueng is the second officer to plead guilty to the state charge. Thomas Lane earlier pleaded guilty to the same count. Their former colleague, Tou Thao, is still scheduled to face trial this week.

All three have already been convicted on federal counts of willfully violating the civil rights of Mr Floyd, who was black. Lane was sentenced to two and a half years in the federal case. Kueng was sentenced to three years and Thao was sentenced to three and a half years, but for some Floyd family members and activists, the penalties were too small.

Mr Floyd, 46, died May 25, 2020, after Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck as he repeatedly said he could not breathe.

The killing, captured on video by a bystander, sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the globe over racial injustice.

Kueng and Lane helped to restrain Mr Floyd, who was handcuffed. Kueng knelt on his back and Lane held down his legs. Thao kept bystanders from intervening during the nine-minute restraint.

Kueng’s plea called for three and a half years in prison, though final determination will be up to the judge. Lane was sentenced to three years in his plea on the state charge, with the time served concurrently with the federal sentence.

Chauvin was convicted of state murder and manslaughter charges last year and is currently serving 22 1/2 years in the state case. He also pleaded guilty to a federal charge of violating MrFloyd’s civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years for that and for an unrelated case involving a 14-year-old boy.

He is serving the sentences concurrently at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona.

Kueng is black, Lane is white and Thao is Hmong American. They were convicted of federal charges in February after a month-long trial that focused on the officers’ training and the culture of the police department.

All three were convicted of depriving Mr Floyd of his right to medical care and Thao and Kueng were also convicted of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin during the killing.

After their federal sentences, there was a question as to whether Kueng and Thao would proceed to trial, with legal experts saying it was likely they would seek a plea deal with the state that would not exceed the federal sentence and allow them serve both sentences at the same time.

If Kueng had been convicted of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, he would have faced a presumptive 12 1/2 years in prison.

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