A former Minneapolis police officer was sentenced on Friday (December 9) after he knelt on George Floyd’s back during the fatal May 2020 arrest.
According to ABC News, J. Alexander Kueng was handed down a 3.5-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to one count of aiding and abetting in second-degree manslaughter as part of an agreement with prosecutors.
Kueng's second charge of aiding and abetting in second-degree unintentional murder was dismissed per the plea deal.
"We appreciate very much that Mr. Kueng plead guilty," prosecutor Matthew Frank said at the sentencing. "We hope the conclusion of this case reaffirms that peace officers cannot treat citizens in crisis as non-people, or second-class citizens."
Kueng and Tou Thao, another officer, were set to head to a joint state trial before the plea agreement was stuck in October.
"J. Alexander Kueng is now the second officer involved in Floyd’s death to accept responsibility through a guilty plea," Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said at the time the plea deal was announced. "That acknowledgment hopefully can bring comfort to Floyd’s family and bring our communities closer to a new era of accountability and justice,"
Thao has now elected to waive a jury trial, and his state charges will be decided by Judge Peter Cahill.
The two former officers are still serving federal sentences after being convicted in February of depriving Floyd of his "constitutional right to be free from an officer's unreasonable force when each willfully failed to intervene to stop ... [Derek] Chauvin's use of unreasonable force.”
Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes during the fatal arrest, was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, for which he has been sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. Chauvin was also sentenced to 21 years on federal civil rights charges in Floyd’s death.
A fourth officer, Thomas Lane, was also convicted on federal civil rights charges for his involvement in Floyd's death. Lane pleaded guilty to state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd's legal team, led by renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump, issued a statement on the latest development in the case.
"The sentencing of Alexander Kueng for his role in the murder of George Floyd delivers yet another piece of justice for the Floyd family," Friday's statement reads. "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."