J. Alexander Kueng, a former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s back during the fatal arrest in May 2020, was sentenced Friday to 3 1/2 years in prison.
Kueng, 29, had pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter in October as part of a deal with prosecutors. A second charge of complicity in second-degree accidental murder will be dismissed against Kueng as part of his plea deal.
“We very much appreciate Mr. Kueng’s pleading guilty,” prosecutor Matthew Frank said at the sentencing.
“We hope that the conclusion of this case reaffirms that peace officials cannot treat civilians in crisis as nonhumans or second-class citizens,” Frank added.
The plea was announced just as a joint state trial for Kueng and Tou Thao, another officer, was set to begin jury selection.
J. Alexander Kueng is now the second officer involved in Floyd’s death to accept responsibility through a guilty plea. That admission can hopefully bring comfort to Floyd’s family and our communities closer to a new era of accountability and bring justice,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith. Ellison said in an October statement about the plea deal.
Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country against police brutality and systemic racism.
“We must never forget the horror of what we all saw in that 9-minute video, and that there is a rightful need for both accountability for all involved and deep lessons to be learned for police officers and communities everywhere,” the legal team said. from George Floyd’s family, led by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, in an October statement about Kueng’s October plea deal.
Both Kueng, 34, and Thao are currently serving federal sentences after being convicted in February on federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
The two were found guilty of depriving Floyd of his “constitutional right to be free from an officer’s unreasonable force when they deliberately failed to intervene to stop… [Derek] Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force.”
Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, was found guilty of three counts in Floyd’s death: second-degree accidental murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for holding his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes.
He was sentenced to 22.5 years.
Chauvin was also sentenced to 21 years on federal civil rights charges following Floyd’s death.
Thao waived a jury trial and his state charges will be decided by a judge. According to MPR, Judge Peter Cahill will review the evidence received on Nov. 17 and has 90 days to rule on the case, according to MPR News.
A third defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane, was also convicted on federal civil rights charges stemming from Floyd’s death. Lane pleaded guilty to charges of complicity in second-degree manslaughter
Editor’s note: J. Alexander Kueng, a former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s back during the fatal arrest, will be sentenced Friday. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that sentencing had already taken place.
Bill Hutchinson of ABC News contributed to this report.