J. Alexander Kueng, one of the former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd, has been sentenced to another three and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter.
Kueng, who pressed his knee into Floyd’s back while then-officer Derek Chauvin used a knee chokehold, is already serving a three-year prison sentence after being convicted in February in federal court of violating Floyd’s civil rights for failing to intervene in his killing.
In late October, Kueng, 29, accepted a plea deal for the state charges. The deal came with a recommended sentence of 42 months in prison, and it was announced right before his joint trial with former fellow officer Tou Thao was set to begin.
As part of the deal, the charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder against Kueng was dropped.
On May 25, 2020, Floyd was killed after Chauvin used a knee chokehold for 9 minutes and 29 seconds during an arrest. During the incident, Floyd, 46, repeatedly begged for help, crying out, "I can't breathe."
Floyd’s death was captured on video, which quickly spread online and sparked mass outrage, protests, and a nationwide reckoning on deadly police brutality and racism.
Earlier this year, Chauvin was convicted of murdering Floyd and sentenced to 21 years in federal prison. Chauvin is also serving a 22-and-a-half-year prison sentence on state charges.
Another former officer, Thomas Lane, who held Floyd’s legs during the incident, is serving two and a half years on his federal conviction. He pleaded guilty to the state charges in May and was sentenced to three years on the state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
The only state case that is still pending is Thao's. He's currently serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence after also being found guilty in federal court of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Thao, 36, has agreed to a bench trial instead of a jury trial for the aiding and abetting manslaughter charge. The state has agreed to drop the murder charge if he is convicted at the bench trial.
In the bench trial, attorneys from both sides will give the court all their evidence, and then the judge will have 90 days to decide the case.
If convicted, the presumed sentence for Thao will be around four years behind bars on top of his three-and-a-half-year federal sentence.
During the federal trial for Kueng, Thao, and Lane, prosecutors argued that they failed to intervene and provide medical aid to Floyd, and instead stood by as he died a "slow, agonizing death."
"Each made a conscious choice over and over again," Samantha Trepel, a special litigation counsel from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, said during the trial. "They chose not to intervene and stop Chauvin as he killed a man. They chose not to protect George Floyd, the man they handcuffed."