Kueng and Thao reject plea deal

Hennepin County Jail/MGN (l-r) Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng

Two former Minneapolis police officers involved with George Floyd’s murder rejected a state plea deal on Monday.

J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao declined the deal, which involved pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter and serving the sentence in federal prison concurrently with their federal sentences for violating Floyd’s civil rights. The deal called for the prosecution to dismiss charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder in exchange for their guilty pleas on the manslaughter count.

Thao said it would be a “lie and a sin” to accept a plea deal. If convicted on state charges, Thao and Kueng face presumptive sentences of 12 and a half years for the murder count and four years for the manslaughter count. The prosecution may argue for higher sentences than these. 

Kueng and Thao will begin serving their respective three- and three-and-a-half-year sentences in federal prison around October 4. Their attorneys and the state will reconvene on October 5 and 6 to discuss motions ahead of their state trial, which is scheduled to begin on October 24.

Ex-officer Thomas Lane accepted the plea agreement and will be sentenced in September. Both the prosecution and the defense will recommend a three-year sentence for aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. It’s expected he will serve the state sentence concurrently with his 30-month federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Derek Chauvin, who murdered Floyd by kneeling on his neck, continues to serve his 22-and-a-half-year sentence at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights. He pleaded guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights last year. He will serve his state and federal sentences concurrently.