St. Paul, MN – The last two former Minneapolis police officers convicted of violating George Floyd’s civil rights were sentenced three and three-and-a-half years in prison on Wednesday.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer J. Alexander Kueng, 28, was sentenced to three years in prison on July 27, CBS News reported.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao, 35, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years behind bars on the same day, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
A federal jury in Minnesota on Feb. 24 found former Minneapolis Police Officers Kueng, Thao, and Thomas K. Lane guilty on all counts of depriving Floyd of his civil rights under color of law when he died in police custody.
Thao, a nine-year veteran of the police force when the incident occurred, was convicted of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law for failing to intervene and depriving Floyd of medical care, CBS News reported.
Kueng was also convicted of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law for failing to intervene and depriving Floyd of medical care.
Lane, 39, was convicted on one count for depriving Floyd of medical care, according to CBS News.
He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on July 21.
Lane has already pleaded guilty to state charges of aiding and abetting Chauvin and is awaiting sentencing.
All three officers had been facing up to life in prison and hefty fines because their crimes resulted in Floyd’s death.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin had already pleaded guilty and entered a plea agreement in federal court on the civil rights charges that allowed him to avoid a second lengthy and expensive trial.
Chauvin was sentenced to 21 years earlier this month.
He is already serving a 22-and-a-half-year prison sentence for the murder of Floyd on May 25, 2020.
Kueng and Thao remain charged in Hennepin County with aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder, but their state trials have been repeatedly delayed until after the completion of their federal cases.
Two of the officers – Lane and Keung – charged in connection with Floyd’s death were rookies under the tutelage of Chauvin, who was Keung’s field training officer (FTO), KMSP reported.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said that Floyd’s arrest occurred during Lane’s third shift as an officer and Kueng’s second shift on the police force.
Thao, a nine-year veteran of the Minneapolis police at the time of Floyd’s death, testified in the federal trial that he didn’t know if Chauvin had violated policy when he put a knee on Floyd’s neck because he had repeatedly seen the move demonstrated at the police academy, The Washington Post reported.
During Chauvin’s state trial, police trainers testified that the moves used by officers the day that Floyd died were not taught or sanctioned.
However, Thao’s attorneys entered into evidence a disk of pictures provided by the police department to graduating cadets so they would “have some memories of our academy days” that proved the moves Chauvin used on Floyd were taught and practiced in training at the police academy, The Washington Post reported.
Those “memories” included multiples images of Minneapolis police trainees practicing arrest techniques under instructors’ tutelage by pressing their knees into a prone subject’s neck in much the same manner that Chauvin restrained Floyd.
At least one picture showed an instructor standing to the side and not appearing to correct the move in training sessions, The Washington Post reported.
Kueng and Lane’s attorneys sought to place blame for any violations of Floyd’s civil rights on the Minneapolis Police Department which had just completed their training when the incident occurred that left the arrestee dead.
Attorneys for Kueng and Lane argued that Chauvin was in command of the scene and videos have shown that when the officers questioned their trainer during the arrest of Floyd, he shut down their concerns, including Lane’s suggestion they “roll” the suspect to a different position.
Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, entered into evidence the police department policy manual that said officers who were trained to use a neck restraint had “authorization” to use it on a suspect.
“He was my senior officer, and I trusted his advice,” Kueng repeatedly told the jury, emphasizing the academy had taught cadets to follow the commands of senior officers.
He said he didn’t realized that Floyd had died until a homicide detective arrived on the scene, The Washington Post reported.
Chauvin had 19 years on the police department on the day of Floyd’s arrest and death.
Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020 after officers responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that he had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.