Ex-Cops in George Floyd Case Get Sentences Below Guidelines

Federal judge told Tou Thao he had 'done well to become a good police officer'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2022 2:01 PM CDT
Ex-Cops Sentenced for Violating George Floyd's Civil Rights
This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on June 3, 2020, shows, from left, former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.   (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

All four former Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd have now received prison sentences. Former officer J. Alexander Keung received a federal sentence of 3 years on Wednesday; former colleague Tou Thao was sentenced to 3.5 years, the Star Tribune reports. Keung held the Black man's back down while former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. Thao kept concerned bystanders away from the scene. Prosecutors had sought sentences "significantly higher" than the two years ex-officer Thomas Lane, who held down Floyd's legs, was sentenced to last week. All three men were found guilty in February of violating Floyd's civil rights during the May 25, 2020, arrest.

Chauvin, who was convicted of murder in state court, received a 21-year federal sentence earlier this month. Kueng and Thao will go on trial in October on state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. The sentences handed down by US District Judge Paul Magnuson were below federal guidelines, the AP reports. "You were truly a rookie officer," the judge told Kueng, saying he had received an "incredible number" of letters of support. Again citing letters of support, he told Thao he had "a difficult childhood" and had "done well to become a good police officer, father, and husband."

The defendants "each made a tragic misdiagnosis in their assessment of Mr. Floyd," Magnuson wrote in an order. "The evidence showed that Kueng genuinely thought that Mr. Floyd was suffering from excited delirium with a drug overdose, and Thao genuinely believed that the officers were dealing with a drug overdose with possible excited delirium." Kueng declined to make a statement in court, while Thao quoted numerous Bible verses and said he had been "born again," CNN reports. Lane reached a plea deal on the state charges in May. Analysts believe Kueng and Thao will now also seek a deal that will allow them to serve a state sentence concurrently with the federal one. (More George Floyd stories.)

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