J. Alexander Kueng, one of four former Minneapolis police officers convicted in aiding and abetting the manslaughter of George Floyd, was sentenced Friday afternoon to three and a half years in prison.
On May 25, 2020, Kueng was one of two officers who helped former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin restrain Floyd for over nine minutes. Floyd died because Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck and none of the three officers at the scene intervened.
“[Their actions were a] disturbance to those good officers and to the profession of law enforcement,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank. “I can’t come close to comprehending what the family of George Floyd had to go through. We think of them and we wish them the best.” The family of George Floyd did not deliver a statement.
Kueng’s attorney Thomas Plunkett blamed inadequate training and corruption for Kueng’s fate. “Kueng, the rookie, sits imprisoned one year for every day he served the city. The leadership learned nothing and forgot nothing,” said Plunkett, adding former Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo failed to take up the community’s request to implement ethical police training and gets to “ride off into the sunset with a hefty pension.”
The sentencing, which was originally scheduled for 8:30 am, was delayed. According to Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the case, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which is housing Kueng in its Elkton, Ohio facility, did not respond to repeated messages about the hearing and made no attempts to sign in to the online webinar where the sentencing took place. The Federal Bureau of Prisons apparently encountered technical difficulties, which persisted until shortly after 1 pm.
As Judge Cahill delivered the morning announcement, someone in the webinar chat box referring to themselves as Derek Chauvin said “Peter, do the right thing.” They were promptly removed from the webinar, with Cahill stating that he will not tolerate such behavior.
Kueng will also receive 84 days credit for time served. He will also have to submit a DNA sample, will no longer be able to possess firearms or ammunition for the rest of his life, and has to pay a $128 fee, which includes special assessments and a law library fee from prison wages.
Assuming Kueng serves two-thirds of his state sentence and his entire 36-month federal sentence, Kueng is expected to be released in October 2025.
Meanwhile, Chauvin and Thomas Lane are serving state and federal sentences in federal prison, Chauvin in Tuscon, Arizona, and Lane in Englewood, Colorado. Tou Thao, the former officer who performed crowd control and denied passersby the ability to render aid to Floyd, remains on trial by stipulated evidence while he serves his federal sentence at the Hennepin County jail inside Minneapolis City Hall.
As part of the trial by stipulated evidence, Judge Cahill will review written evidence and render a verdict within 90 days of November 17, the deadline for the state and defendants to submit evidence. If convicted, Thao will likely serve his sentence in Hennepin County jail to be closer to family, aware that he will likely serve his time in solitary confinement.
Attorney Ben Crump and co-counsels Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms released a statement before Cahill’s announcement wishing Floyd’s family comfort with the outcome. “While the family faces yet another holiday season without George, we hope that moments like these continue to bring them a measure of peace, knowing that George’s death was not in vain.”
H. Jiahong Pan 潘嘉宏 is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.