The former Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s back while another officer kneeled on his neck was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Friday.
J. Alexander Kueng pleaded guilty in October to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. In exchange, a charge of aiding and abetting murder was dropped, according to the Associated Press. He is already serving a federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights. The former officer will serve the two sentences concurrently.
Kueng appeared in court via video link from a federal prison in Ohio. He declined to address the court when given the opportunity.
Floyd’s family members could have given victim impact statements, but none did. In a statement before the hearing, attorney Ben Crump said that Kueng’s sentence “delivers yet another piece of justice for the Floyd family.”
“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,” he said.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after former officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and eventually went limp. Floyd’s killing, which was captured on video by a bystander, sparked global outrage and a reckoning on racial injustice.
During the restraint, Kueng kneeled on Floyd’s back. Officer Thomas Lane then held Floyd’s legs while Tou Thao, another former office prevented bystanders from intervening. The officers were all fired and have had state and federal charges.
Kueng admitted as part of his plea agreement that he held Floyd’s torso and knew from his training and experience that restraining a handcuffed person in such a position created a significant risk.
His conviction brings the cases against all four of the former officers one step closer to resolution, though the state case against Thao remains open.
Chauvin is serving a 22-and-a-half-year sentence after being convicted of murder and manslaughter charges last year. Lane is serving a two-and-a-half-year federal sentence in a Colorado facility. At the same time, he is serving a three-year state sentence.