Tou Thao (left) and J Alexander Kueng (right) were sentenced to three and three and a half years in prison on Wednesday (Pictures: AP)
Former Minneapolis police officers J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were sentenced to three and three and a half years in prison, respectively, for violating George Floyd’s civil rights in his May 2020 killing.
The men, and another former officer Thomas Lane, were convicted in February of violating Floyd’s rights and failing to intervene when Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes and killed him.
They were convicted in February of violating Floyd’s rights and failing to intervene when their colleague Derek Chauvin knelt on the 46-year-old black man’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes. Lane was sentenced to two and a half years last week.
Kueng held Floyd’s back, Lane held his feet and Thao blocked off curious bystanders, some of whom took video of Floyd’s death that prompted a global reckoning on racial injustice and policing.
J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were on the scene with Derek Chauvin at the time of George Floyd’s death in May 2020 (Pictures: AP)
Judge Paul Magnuson noted that Kueng, 28, was a rookie officer at the time of Floyd’s death and sentenced him to three years in prison and two years of supervised release.
In a separate hearing, Magnuson sentenced Thao, 35, to three and a half years in prison with two years of supervised release. He had been a cop with the Minneapolis Police Department for nine years.
While Kueng remained silent in court, Thao quoted numerous Bible verses and said that after being jailed, he was now ‘born again.’
Prior to the sentencing, Floyd’s girlfriend Courtney Ross gave a victim impact statement, telling Kueng the sentence ‘will not define’ him.
Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 21 years in prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights and 22 1/2 years on state murder charges (Picture: AP)
‘This does not mean you cannot find your footing to stand up for what’s right in the future,’ she told Kueng.
Both of the men received sentences lower than the federal guidelines, which recommend 4 1/4 years and 5 1/4 years.
‘The facts of this case do not amount to second-degree murder under federal law,’ Magnuson wrote in a ruling last week. ‘Defendants Kueng and Thao each made a tragic misdiagnosis in their assessment of Mr Floyd.’
Kueng and Thao believed that Floyd had overdosed on drugs and was suffering from ‘excited delirium,’ where someone expresses bizarre or aggressive behavior that can sometimes lead to a sudden death.
While Kueng and Thao both believed Floyd was experiencing ‘excited delirium,’ only Lane expressed concern over Floyd’s wellbeing during the arrest, which led to his lighter sentence.
Chauvin pleaded guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights in February and was sentenced to 21 years in prison, which will be served simultaneously with his 22 1/2 year sentence on state murder charges.
Lane pleaded guilty to state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter as part of a plea deal that dismissed the top charge against him. He has not yet been sentenced in state court.
Kueng and Thao will be tried in state court on charges of aiding and abetting in murder and aiding and abetting in manslaughter on October 24. They have both pleaded not guilty to those charges.
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