MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Minneapolis police officer kneels on George Floyd’s back Another officer who knelt on a black man’s neck was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Friday.
J. Alexander Kueng pleaded guilty in October To the state count of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. In exchange, the charge of assisting murder was dropped. Kueng is already serving a federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights, and the state and federal sentences are expected to be issued simultaneously.
Kueng attended the hearing via video from a federal prison in Ohio. When offered the opportunity to speak in court, he declined.
Floyd’s family had the right to make a statement about the impact on victims, but no one did. Attorney Ben Crump, who has represented the family, said in a statement before the hearing that Kuen’s ruling “provides another piece of justice for the Floyd family.”
“As the family enters the holiday season without George, we hope that moments like this continue to bring them some peace, knowing that George’s death was not in vain.
On May 25, 2020, Floyd died after former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half hours, repeatedly telling him he couldn’t breathe and eventually limped. The killing, which was captured on video by a bystander, sparked protests around the world as part of a broader calculus around racial injustice.
Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back while in custody. Thomas Lane, an officer at the time, hugged Floyd’s leg, and Tho Sao, who was also an officer at the time, prevented bystanders from intervening. All officers were fired and charged with state and federal crimes.
As part of the plea deal, Kueng had a Floyd torso and knew from experience and training that restraining a handcuffed person in a prone position poses a considerable risk, He admitted that detaining Floyd was unreasonable under the circumstances.
Matthew Frank, who headed the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office prosecution, reiterated at the hearing that Floyd was a crime victim and that the prosecution “focused on the officer” that caused his death. added that the case was not intended to be a broad investigation of police activity, but reaffirmed that police officers cannot treat people “at risk” as non-humans or second-class citizens. He added that he hopes to
“Mr. Kueng wasn’t just a bystander that day. He did little more than some of the bystanders tried to help Mr. Floyd,” Frank said.
Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, on Friday blamed Minneapolis police leaders for Floyd’s death and Kueng’s punishment. He accused Medalia Arradondo, the police chief at the time of Floyd’s death, from not implementing training to encourage officers to intervene when one of her co-workers was doing something wrong. .
“Mr. Kuen the Rookie is serving a year in prison for serving the city every day,” Plunkett said, referring to the three years he will spend in prison.
He added: “Justice is nothing more than spiteful revenge.”
Kueng’s ruling brought the case against all former officers one step closer to resolution, but the state’s case against Thao is still pending.
Thao previously told Judge Peter Cahill that he would “lie” in pleading guilty. As part of that process, his attorneys and prosecutors have produced the agreed upon evidence in his case and are presenting written closing arguments. Cahill then decides guilt or innocence.
If Thao is convicted, the number of murders will be reduced and he will be sentenced to an estimated 12.5 years in prison.
Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of state murder and manslaughter last year and has served 22-and-a-half years in a state case.He also pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years in prison. .
Kueng, Lane, and Thao were convicted on federal charges in February. All three were found guilty of depriving Floyd of medical care, and Thao and Kueng were also found guilty of failing to intervene to stop his Chauvin during the murder.
Lane, who is white, is serving a two-and-a-half-year federal sentence in a Colorado facility. At the same time he is serving a three-year state sentence. Kuen, who is black, was sentenced to three years in federal court. A Hmong American, Thao was sentenced to three and a half years in federal prison.
Groves reported from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
For AP coverage of the murder of George Floyd, see https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd.