Officer Who Knelt on Back of George Floyd Sentenced

Judge sends J. Alexander Kueng to prison for 3½ years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 9, 2022 4:30 PM CST
Ex-Officer Who Kept a Knee on George Floyd Gets Prison
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)

The former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd's back while another officer knelt on the Black man's neck was sentenced Friday by a judge to 3½ 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 his sentencing hearing via video from a federal prison in Ohio. When given the chance to address the court, he declined, the AP reports. With credit for time served and different parole guidelines in the state and federal systems, Kueng will likely serve a total of about 2½ years behind bars.

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."
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for 9½ 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 knelt 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. Kueng's attorney, Thomas Plunkett, on Friday blamed the Minneapolis Police Department's leadership and a lack of training for Floyd's death. (More J. Alexander Kueng stories.)

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