J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao: Two ex-officers who held George Floyd sentenced to 3 years and 3.5 years in federal prison

Kueng, who held down Floyd’s torso, and Thao, who held down a group of bystanders, were each found guilty in February of violating Floyd’s civil rights and failing to intervene to arrest fellow employee Derek Chauvin during restraint.

Along with the sentences, the four officers who helped restrain Floyd in May 2020 have now been sentenced to prison.

Thomas Lane, who held down Floyd’s legs, was convicted of a federal charge and sentenced last week to 2 and a half years in prison, as Judge Paul A. Magnuson cited Lane’s “minimal role” in the incident. Chauvin, the main aggressor, pleaded guilty to Floyd’s civil rights violation and an unrelated civil rights violation and was sentenced to 21 years in prison to serve concurrently with his 22.5-year sentence for state murder.

Federal prosecutors had asked the court to sentence Kueng and Thao to “significantly more” time than the range applicable to Lane but less time than Chauvin’s sentence. Thao’s defense team asked for a 2-year sentence, while Kueng’s defense team filed their recommendation under seal.

Kueng declined to make a statement in court. Thao, however, gave a lengthy statement in court, quoting numerous Bible verses and describing how he was “born again” after being imprisoned.

Courteney Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend, addressed the two former officers in court.

“I’ll never forget you spoke to the audience when you said, ‘That’s why you don’t do drugs,'” she told Thao. “No one deserves to be treated like less. That’s not how Floyd treated others.”

Kueng and Thao will also be ordered to pay a special assessment of $200 and will be placed on probation for 2 years after serving their prison terms.

In court on Wednesday, the judge said Kueng was a new officer who was deferring to the authority of a “much more senior officer.” Magnuson wrote in a court filing last week that Kueng and Thao “each made a tragic misdiagnosis in their assessment” of Floyd.

“Evidence showed that Kueng genuinely believed that Mr. Floyd was suffering from excited delirium with a drug overdose, and Thao genuinely believed that the officers were dealing with a drug overdose with possible excited delirium,” he said. he writes.

How we got here

The sentencing comes more than two years after Lane, Thao and Kueng were fired and arrested for their actions – or lack thereof – in May 2020 as Chauvin pressed his knee into the neck and back of Floyd, who was handcuffed and lying down on his stomach, for more than nine minutes.

The heartbreaking video of the incident and Floyd’s ignored pleas for help have gone viral and sparked an international protest movement against police brutality and anti-Black violence.

During their federal trial in February, each of the Lane, Kueng and Thao testified in their own defense and highlighted Chauvin’s role in taking charge of the situation.

Kueng told jurors he deferred to Chauvin on what to do during the arrest because Chauvin was the senior officer on the scene with more than 15 years of experience.

Thao told the court he assumed the other officers at the scene were “dealing” with Floyd and that his role had shifted to crowd and traffic control. When prosecutors asked Thao during cross-examination why he didn’t tell Chauvin to get rid of Floyd’s neck, he said, “I think I would trust a 19-year-old veteran to figure that out. “

In addition, You and Kueng face a state trial in October for aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They pleaded not guilty.
Last month, Lane pleaded guilty in state court for aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors and the defense agreed to jointly recommend a 3-year sentence to be served concurrently with his federal sentence in a federal institution, according to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office. .

CNN’s Brad Parks contributed to this report.

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