ST. PAUL, Minn. — Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Kueng was sentenced Wednesday by a federal jury to three years in prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights in the May 2020 killing.
His co-defendant Kueng Tou Thao was scheduled to be sentenced later Wednesday morning.
Kueng and Thao were convicted in February of two counts of violating Floyd’s civil rights. Jurors found they denied the 46-year-old Black man medical treatment and failed to stop Derek Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes. Kueng, who is black, was sentenced to three years on each charge, to be served concurrently.
The lower sentence for Kueng raises questions about whether he would consider a plea deal or risk an Oct. 24 state court trial, when he and Thao face charges of accessory to second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Kueng held Floyd’s back, former officer Thomas Lane held his legs and Thao held back bystanders, some of whom recorded video that sparked global protests.
The federal government brought civil rights charges against all four officers in May 2021, a month after Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in state court. They were seen as an affirmation of the Justice Department’s priorities to address racial disparities in policing, a promise made by President Joe Biden before his election. And they come just a week after federal prosecutors filed hate crime charges in the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and announced two sweeping police investigations in two states.
Chauvin, who pleaded guilty last year to violating Floyd’s civil rights and a teenager’s civil rights in an unrelated case, was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison. Lane, who twice asked if Floyd needed to roll on his side so he could breathe, was convicted of one count and sentenced last week to 2 1/2 — a sentence that Floyd’s brother Philonise called ” offensive”.
Prosecutors asked for less time from Chauvin and “substantially” more from Lane. Kueng’s lawyer had asked for two years, according to prosecutors.
Kueng and Thao won a victory last week when U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson issued rulings affecting how their federal sentences are calculated. The rulings — particularly those crossing their crimes with involuntary manslaughter instead of murder — meant the men headed to Wednesday’s hearings with a recommended range of 4 1/4 years to 5 1/4 years. Maybe they were facing a life sentence.
Mark Osler, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and a former federal prosecutor, said before the hearings that once the men knew what their federal sentences were, they would likely seek a plea deal on the state charges. t exceed the federal sentence and will let them serve the sentences concurrently.
Kueng and Thao, who is Hmong American, can still appeal their federal convictions. If they plead guilty in state court, any federal appeal would be moot, said Mike Brandt, a criminal defense attorney who prosecuted the case. But it’s also hard to win a federal appeal, he said.
“Those are some of the calculations they’re going to have to make in terms of: Do I go to trial and risk something worse? Do I think I have a good chance of appealing the federal case?” Brandt said.
Lane, who is white, pleaded guilty to a state charge of accessory to second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing in that case. He was allowed to remain free on bond following his federal sentence.
Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in state court and is serving 22 and a half years in prison. His federal and state sentences are to run concurrently.
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J. Alexander Kueng sentence: Ex-Minneapolis police officer gets 3 years in prison for violating George Floyd’s rights Source link J. Alexander Kueng sentence: Ex-Minneapolis police officer gets 3 years in prison for violating George Floyd’s rights