January 27, 2023

Former cop who knelt on George Floyd’s back gets 3.5 years in office

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s back Another officer was sentenced Friday to 3 1/2 years in prison after kneeling on the neck of a black man.

J. Alexander Nguyen pleaded guilty in October Number of States Contributing to Second Degree Manslaughter In exchange, the charge of accessory to murder was dropped. Kueng is already serving a federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights, and the state and federal sentences will run concurrently.

Nguyen appeared at the hearing via video from a federal prison in Ohio. When given the opportunity to speak in court, he declined.

With credit for time served and different parole guidelines in state and federal settings, Kueng will serve a total of 2 1/2 years behind bars.

Floyd’s family members had the right to make victim impact statements, but none did. Attorney Ben Crump, who represented the family, said in a statement before the hearing that Nguyen’s sentence “provides another measure of justice for the Floyd family.”

“As the family faces another holiday season without George, we hope moments like this give them a measure of peace knowing that George’s death was not in vain,” she said.

On May 25, 2020, after former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes, Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe and eventually went limp. The killing, recorded on video by a bystander, sparked global protests as part of a broader reckoning with racial injustice.

Nguyen kneed Floyd’s back during the takedown. Then-Officer Thomas Lane grabbed Floyd’s legs while Dou Tao, an officer at the time, prevented bystanders from intervening. All of the officers were fired and face state and federal charges.

As part of his plea agreement, Nguyen admitted holding Floyd’s torso, that his experience and training meant restraining a handcuffed man in a prone position created a substantial risk, and that Floyd’s restraint was unreasonable.

Matthew Frank, who led the prosecution for the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, repeatedly said during the trial that Floyd was the victim of a crime and that “the state focused on the officers” responsible for his death. He said the case was not meant to be a broad scrutiny of the police department, but hoped it would reaffirm that police officers cannot treat “those in crisis as non-people or second-class citizens”.

“Mr. Ong Nguyen was not just a bystander. He did less to help Mr. Floyd than some bystanders tried to do,” Frank said.

Nguyen’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, on Friday blamed the Minneapolis Police Department’s leadership and lack of training for Floyd’s death. Medaria Arradondo, the police chief at the time of Floyd’s killing, accused her of failing to implement training that encourages officers to intervene when one of their colleagues does something wrong.

“Mr. Kueng, the rookie, is sitting in jail for a year for every day he serves the city,” Plunkett said, referring to the three years he will spend behind bars.

He added: “Justice is nothing but meaningful revenge.”

Nguyen’s conviction brings the cases against all former officials one step closer to resolution, although the state case against Tao is still pending.

Tao earlier told Judge Peter Cahill that a guilty plea “would be a lie”. In October, he pleaded guilty to a so-called evidentiary hearing on aiding and abetting manslaughter. As part of that process, his lawyers and attorneys prepare the agreed-upon evidence in his case and write closing arguments. Cahill will then decide whether he is guilty or not.

If Tao is convicted, the murder count — which carries a sentence of 12 1/2 years in prison — will be dropped.

Chauvin, who is white, is serving 22 1/2 years in prison after being convicted of capital murder and manslaughter last year.. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years in prison. He is serving concurrent sentences at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona.

Nguyen, Lane and Thao were indicted on federal charges in February: All three were convicted of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care, and Thao and Nguyen were convicted of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin during the murder.

Lane, who is white, is serving a 2 1/2-year federal sentence at a facility in Colorado. He is serving a three-year state sentence at the same time. Kueng, who is black, was sentenced to three years in prison on the federal count; Thao, a Hmong American, received a 3 1/2-year federal sentence.

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Groves are reported from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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For more AP coverage of the murder of George Floyd: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd