Two Ex-officers Who Restrained George Floyd Sentenced to 3 Years and 3.5 Years in Federal Prison

In February, Kueng and Thao were found guilty of civil rights violations for holding down Floyd’s torso and a group of bystanders, respectively, and for failing to intervene to arrest coworker Derek Chauvin during restraint.

Four police officers who assisted in restraining Floyd in May 2020 have also been given prison terms.

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Thomas Lane, the man who held down Floyd’s legs, was found guilty of a federal charge and sentenced to 2.5 years in prison last week. The judge, Paul A. Magnuson, justified the lengthy sentence by pointing to Lane’s “minimal role” in the incident.

Two Ex-Officers Sentenced In Federal Prison

Chauvin, the main perpetrator, pleaded guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights and another civil rights violation and was given a 21-year sentence to be served concurrently with his 22.5-year sentence for state murder.

Prosecutors had requested that Kueng and Thao be given sentences that were “significantly more” severe than the range applicable to Lane but less severe than Chauvin’s. The defense for Thao requested a sentence of 2 years, while Kueng’s recommendation was filed under seal.

Kueng decided against testifying. However, Thao gave a lengthy statement in court, during which he quoted numerous Bible verses and described how he was “born again” while incarcerated.

Two Ex-officers Who Restrained George Floyd Sentenced to 3 Years and 3.5 Years in Federal Prison
Two Ex-officers Who Restrained George Floyd Sentenced to 3 Years and 3.5 Years in Federal Prison

The court heard from Courteney Ross, Floyd‘s girlfriend, as she addressed the two ex-cops.

“I’ll never forget you spoke to the audience when you said, ‘That’s why you don’t do drugs,’” she told Thao. “No one deserves to be treated like less. That’s not how Floyd treated others.”

After serving their time, Kueng and Thao will be placed on two years of probation and required to pay a special assessment of $200.

On Wednesday, the judge explained that Kueng was a relatively inexperienced officer who was submitting to the authority of a “much more senior officer.” In a legal filing made last week, Magnuson claimed that Kueng and Thao “each made a tragic misdiagnosis in their assessment” of Floyd.

Kueng “genuinely believed 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,” he said. 

It has been over two years since Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck and back while he was handcuffed and lying on his stomach for more than nine minutes in May of 2020. Lane, Thao, and Kueng were fired and arrested for their actions, or lack thereof.

A worldwide protest movement against police brutality and anti-Black violence has been sparked by the viral video of the incident and Floyd’s ignored pleas for help.

When they went on trial in federal court in February, Lane, Kueng, and Thao all testified in their own defense, putting the spotlight on Chauvin’s role in the proceedings.

Because of Chauvin’s seniority and 15 years of experience, Kueng testified that he followed the advice of his senior officer in making arrest decisions.

According to testimony, Thao provided in court, he believed that the other officers present were “dealing” with Floyd and that his responsibilities had shifted to that of traffic and crowd management. Thao responded to a question from the prosecution about why he didn’t tell Chauvin to cut off Floyd’s neck with the following: “I think I would trust a 19-year-old veteran to figure that out.”

In addition, state trials for second-degree manslaughter, aiding and abetting, and second-degree manslaughter are scheduled for October for both Thou and Kueng. They entered a not-guilty plea.

The state court hearing where Lane entered his guilty plea was last month. He was charged with aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. The office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison reports that as part of a plea agreement, the prosecution and defense agreed to jointly recommend a three-year sentence to be served concurrently with his federal sentence in a federal institution.

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