Wed | Feb 1, 2023

Ex-cop who kneeled on George Floyd’s back gets 3.5-year term

Published:Friday | December 9, 2022 | 3:29 PM
This June 3, 2020, file photo provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota, shows J. Alexander Kueng. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The former Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on George Floyd's back while another officer kneeled on the Black man's neck was sentenced Friday to 3 1/2 years in prison.

J. Alexander Kueng pleaded guilty in October to a state count of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. In exchange, a charge of aiding and abetting murder was dropped.

Kueng is already serving a federal sentence for violating Floyd's civil rights, and the state and federal sentence will be served at the same time.

Kueng appeared at the hearing via video from a federal prison in Ohio. When given the chance to address the court, he declined.

Floyd's family members had the right to make victim impact statements, but none did. Attorney Ben Crump, who has represented the family, said in a statement before the hearing that Kueng's sentencing “delivers yet another piece of justice for the Floyd family. ”

“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,” he said.

Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after former Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe and eventually went limp. The killing, which was recorded on video by a bystander, sparked worldwide protests as part of a broader reckoning over racial injustice.

Kueng kneeled on Floyd's back during the restraint. Then-Officer Thomas Lane held Floyd's legs and Tou Thao, also an officer at the time, kept bystanders from intervening. All of the officers were fired and faced state and federal charges.

As part of his plea agreement, Kueng admitted that he held Floyd's torso, that he knew from his experience and training that restraining a handcuffed person in a prone position created a substantial risk, and that the restraint of Floyd was unreasonable under the circumstances.

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