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Ex-Minneapolis officers J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao sentenced to prison for violating George Floyd’s rights

ST. PAUL, Minnesota– The latest two former Minneapolis police officers convicted of violating George Floyd’s civil rights during his May 2020 killing were sentenced in federal court on Wednesday to three and three-and-a-half years — sentences a judge said reflected their guilt in one case sparked global protests over a reckoning of racial injustice.

J. Alexander Kueng was sentenced to three years and Tao Thao to 3 1/2 years. They were found guilty of two counts of violating Floyd’s civil rights in February. The jury found they deprived the 46-year-old black man of medical care and failed to stop Derek Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes.

As Chauvin held Floyd’s neck, Kueng held Floyd’s back, Officer Thomas Lane held his feet and Thao restrained bystanders during the murder, which was recorded by bystanders.

The federal government filed civil rights charges against all four officers in May 2021, a month after Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in a state court. They were seen as an endorsement of the Justice Department’s priorities of addressing racial injustices in policing, a pledge President Joe Biden made prior to his election. And they came just a week after federal prosecutors filed hate crime charges over the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and announced two full-scale investigations into policing in two states.

Ex-cop Thomas Lane gets 2 1/2 years for killing George Floyd federal charges

Kueng and Thao were found guilty on two counts of violating Floyd’s civil rights in February. The jury found they deprived the 46-year-old black man of medical care and failed to stop Chauvin. Kueng, who is black, was each sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, which must be served concurrently. Thao, a Hmong-American, was due to be sentenced later on Wednesday.

The lower sentence for Kueng and Thao raises questions about whether he would consider a plea deal or risk a trial in state court on Oct. 24 when they face accessory to second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin, who pleaded guilty last year to violating Floyd’s civil rights and the civil rights of a teenager in an unrelated case, was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison. Lane, who twice asked if Floyd should be rolled onto his side so he could breathe, was convicted of one charge and sentenced to 2 1/2 last week – a sentence Floyd’s brother Philonise called an “insult”.

Kueng and Thao clinched a victory last week when Magnuson issued rulings that affected the calculation of their federal penalties. The verdicts – particularly one that likens their crimes to manslaughter rather than murder – meant the men went to Wednesday’s hearings with a recommended age range of 4 1/4 years to 5 1/4 years. They could face a life sentence.

Mark Osler, a professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School and a former federal prosecutor, said before the hearings that Kueng and Thao would likely seek a settlement on the state charges that would not exceed the federal penalty and allow them to serve the sentences concurrently.

Kueng and Thao 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 has been prosecuting the case. But it’s also hard to win a federal appeal, he said.

“These are some of the calculus they have to make in terms of, am I going to court and risking something worse? Do I think I have a good chance of appealing the federal case?” Brandt said.

Lane, who is white, pled guilty to a state charge of second-degree accessory to manslaughter and is awaiting conviction in this case. He was allowed to remain free on bail following his federal conviction.

Chauvin, who is white, was sentenced to a 22 1/2 year state sentence in addition to his federal sentence. These penalties are served simultaneously.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://6abc.com/j-alexander-kueng-sentence-tou-thao-george-floyd-derek-chauvin/12076669/ Ex-Minneapolis officers J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao sentenced to prison for violating George Floyd’s rights

Alley Einstein

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