OCTOBER 24, 2022 —From the 18th floor of the Hennepin County District Court, it was revealed Monday, October 24th that former officer, J. Alexander Kueng, will not be going to trial in connection with the death of George Floyd. At the start of court, Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, announced a negotiated settlement. Meanwhile, former officer Tou Thao agreed not to proceed with his state trial as scheduled.
The defendants’ decisions were announced as jury selection in their joint trial was about to get underway. However, Kueng pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. The plea deal calls for 3 ½ years in prison, with prosecutors agreeing to drop a count of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Thao, meanwhile, rejected a plea deal earlier this year, telling a judge it “would be lying” to accept.
All three former MPD cops were convicted in February on federal counts of willfully violating the civil rights of George Floyd. Lane was sentenced to 2 ½ years in the federal case. Kueng, 29, was sentenced to three years and Thao, 36, was sentenced to 3 ½. Let’s recall that it was both Kueng and Lane’s first week on the job.
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Kueng, who is black, will likely serve a grand total of 28-30 months in prison before he’s released and will be supervised for the rest of the term.
Plunkett reportedly went over the entire signed plea agreement point-by-point with Kueng; and now the “defendant” admits to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, specifically by being culpably negligent and creating an unreasonable risk.
He knowingly and intentionally assisted in restraining Mr. Floyd by holding his torso.
The defendant was also aware that Mr. Floyd fell silent….
Kueng also admits to being specifically aware that Chauvin was on Floyd’s neck, and that they should have placed Floyd in the side-recovery position.
Derek Chauvin was convicted last year on the state level of second-degree murder and manslaughter for pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck outside Cup Foods as Floyd pleaded for his life. Chauvin later pled guilty to federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights and is serving a 22-year prison sentence.
Kueng’s 3 ½-year state sentence will be served concurrently with his 3-year federal sentence that he’s serving at the federal prison in Elkton, Ohio. Kueng agrees to a remote hearing from prison rather than return to court.
After Kueng’s plea deal was announced, co-defendant Thao told District Judge Peter Cahill that he was giving up his right to a jury trial and agreeing instead to a trial by stipulated evidence as to count 2 only. In a stipulated evidence trial, it would be up to Judge Cahill to determine guilt, not a jury of 12. If there is a conviction on count 2, the state would agree to dismiss count 1. If found guilty of both counts, they could’ve both received at least 16 years in prison.
Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, asked Thao to confirm in court that he understands he is waiving his right to have a jury decide his innocence and have that done by a Judge.
Thao recently suffered a concussion but told the Judge he was clear-headed.
The joint trial was expected to last until mid-December but not anymore.
Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement to thank the witnesses who were preparing to testify in the third trial connected to Floyd’s killing.
“Kueng is now the second officer involved in Floyd’s death to accept responsibility through a guilty plea,” Ellison said. “That acknowledgment hopefully can bring comfort to Floyd’s family and bring our communities closer to a new era of accountability and justice.”
Check out the upcoming film George Floyd: The Real TimeLine
Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, founder, and editor-in-chief of HoneyColony. She is also the director of the award-winning documentary film Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Elliot Page. Follow her on Gab:@ladybee. Email her: email@example.com.
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