MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A former Minneapolis police officer pleaded guilty Monday to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the murder of george floyd just as jury selection was about to begin, although another ex-officer was still on trial.
The plea agreement for J. Alexandre Kueng calls for 3½ years in prison, with prosecutors agreeing to drop the count of accessory to second degree murder. Kueng is the second officer to plead guilty to the state charge, after Thomas Lane, who pleaded guilty earlier this year.
Their former colleague, Tou Thao, rejected a plea deal earlier this year, telling a judge it would be a “lie” to agree to such a deal. Jury selection for Thao was due to begin later Monday.
All three were convicted in February on federal charges to deliberately violate the civil rights of Floyd, who was black. Lane was sentenced to 2 and a half years in the federal case. Kueng was sentenced to three years and Thao was sentenced to 3 1/2, but for some Floyd family members and activists, the penalties were too low.
Floyd, 46, passed away on May 25, 2020, after Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground with a knee on Floyd’s neck as he repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. The murder, captured on widely viewed viewer videosparked protests in Minneapolis and around the world amid a judgment on racial injustice.
Kueng and Lane helped restrain Floyd, who was handcuffed. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane held down Floyd’s legs. Thao stopped bystanders from intervening during the 9½-minute detention.
As part of his plea agreement, Kueng admitted that he was holding Floyd’s torso, that he knew from experience and training that restraining a handcuffed person in a prone position created substantial risk, and that restraining Floyd was being unreasonable under the circumstances.
Kueng’s plea called for him to simultaneously serve his state and federal terms, just as Lane does.
Chauvin was convicted of state murder and manslaughter last year and is currently serving 22 1/2 years in the case of the state. He also pleaded guilty to a federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years for that and an unrelated case involving a 14-year-old boy. He is concurrently serving his sentences 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 focusing on officer training and police department culture. All three were found guilty of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care and Thao and Kueng were also found guilty of failing to intervene to arrest Chauvin during the murder.
After their federal sentences, there was a question whether Kueng and Thao would stand 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 their would serve both sentences. at a time.
State guidelines on sentencing someone without a criminal record, like Kueng, call for a sentence ranging from about 3½ years to four years and nine months in prison for second-degree manslaughter. The presumed sentence is four years.
If Kueng had been convicted of aiding and abetting second degree murder, he would have been sentenced to 12½ years in prison.
Find full AP coverage of the death of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd