Ahead of trial in George Floyd murder, ex-officer pleads guilty : NPR


Tou Thao, left, and J. Alexander Kueng, are both former Minneapolis police officers charged with the May 2020 murder of George Floyd.

Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office/AP


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Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office/AP


Tou Thao, left, and J. Alexander Kueng, are both former Minneapolis police officers charged with the May 2020 murder of George Floyd.

Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office/AP

It’s been more than a year since former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison for the murder and manslaughter of George Floyd in May 2020.

As a trial was set to begin Monday for two ex-officers accused of aiding and abetting the manslaughter and murder of Floyd, one of the former officers – J. Alexander Kueng – accepted a plea deal that will force him to plead guilty to one charge. And instead of a jury trial, Tou Thao’s case will now be decided by a judge.

Floyd died after Chauvin pressed his knee to his neck for more than nine minutes. The scene was captured on video by members of the community who expressed anger at the mistreatment of Floyd by Chauvin and the other officers, and his death has become a global rallying point for racial justice and social reform. the police.

Legal proceedings are underway for Chauvin and other former Minneapolis police officers who were part of the scene. Here’s where things stand now.

J. Alexandre Kueng

Monday, a jury trial was fixed at begin at Minnesota District Court for former officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao. Both had pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting the murder and manslaughter of Floyd.

But on Monday morning Kueng, 29, accepted a plea deal in which he will plead guilty to aiding and abetting the second-degree manslaughter of Floyd, and the charge of aiding and abetting the murder of Floyd will be dropped. The agreement provides that Kueng will be sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison, according to the Associated Press.

As Chauvin pinned down Floyd with a knee on the black man’s neck, Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back.

In the plea agreement read Monday, “Kueng admitted he should have known about the dangers of ‘positional asphyxiation’ because of his training as a police officer. He also admitted to hearing Floyd say he couldn’t breathing and that he had stopped speaking, and that “Mr. Floyd’s restraint was unreasonable in the circumstances” and unconstitutional”, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Kueng had rejected an earlier plea deal.

Kueng has already been found guilty in federal court and sentenced to 36 months in prison. He was found guilty of depriving Floyd of his “constitutional right to be free from unreasonable force by an officer when each willfully failed to intervene to stop… Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force.” the Department of Justice noted.

He began serving his federal sentence earlier this month in a prison in Lisbon, Ohio. Kueng’s advocacy will allow him to simultaneously serve his state and federal mandates, the AP reported.

Tou Thao

Thao, 36, had pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting the murder and manslaughter of Floyd, and jury selection for his trial was due to begin on Monday.

But on Monday morning, Thao agreed to a bench trial instead of a jury trial for aiding and abetting manslaughter. The state agreed to drop the accessory to murder charge if he was found guilty at trial. Witnesses will not need to testify again, and instead lawyers will obtain evidence in court by November 17, according to the MPR. Judge Peter Cahill will then have 90 days to decide the case.

The presumed sentence if Thao is found guilty of aiding and abetting manslaughter will be approximately 48 months, MPR’s Jon Collins reports.

During Chauvin’s deadly restraint on Floyd, Thao prevented passers-by from intervening.

Thao had earlier rejected a plea deal that would have required him to plead guilty and receive a 36-month sentence. Thao said it would be a “lie and a sin” for him to plead guilty, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

The presumed sentence if convicted of aiding and abetting the murder was 150 months, MPR reported.

In July, Thao was sentenced to 42 months in prison on federal charges of depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights. He began serving his federal sentence earlier this month at a facility in Lexington, Ky.

Thomas Lane

Thomas Lane was sentenced last month to 3 years in prison, after pleading guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter in Floyd’s murder. He held Floyd’s legs as Chauvin pinned Floyd’s neck.

Lane was already serving 2½ years for violating Floyd’s civil rights, a federal charge. A plea deal will allow Lane to serve federal and state sentences simultaneously.

Derek Chauvin

Chauvin was convicted in April 2021 charged by the state with second degree manslaughter, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. He was sentenced two months later to 22 and a half years in prison.

He has appealed the jury’s verdict. As NPR’s Bill Chappell reported in April, Chauvin is asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to do one of three things: “vacate his conviction and return his case to Hennepin County; vacate the result and order a new trial in a new venue; or order that Chauvin be sentenced to a lesser sentence.”

In federal court, Chauvin pleaded guilty to violating a federal civil rights law in two separate incidents and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

“First, Chauvin pleaded guilty to willfully depriving Mr. Floyd of his constitutional right to be free from the unreasonable use of force by a police officer, resulting in the bodily injury and death of Mr. Floyd,” according to the Ministry of Justice. “Chauvin also pleaded guilty to willfully depriving a then 14-year-old child of his constitutional right to be free from the unreasonable use of force by a police officer, resulting in bodily harm to the child.”

The federal sentence will take place simultaneously with Chauvin’s state sentence.

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