February 2, 2023

FILE - This photo, provided by the Sheriff's Office of Hennepin County in Minnesota, June 3, 2020, shows J. Alexander Kueng.  Former Minneapolis police officers Kueng and Tou Thao were scheduled to go on trial next Monday on charges of complicity in murder and manslaughter in the May 2020 death of George Floyd. But judge Peter Cahill postponed the trial to January 5 on Monday (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

Former Minneapolis police officer J Alexander Kueng was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to being an accessory to manslaughter (Photo: AP)

One of the Minneapolis police officers who knelt on George Floyd’s back to restrain him when he died has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

J Alexander Kueng accepted a plea deal in October. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of complicity in second-degree manslaughter.

Kueng is already serving a federal sentence for violating George Floyd’s civil rights.

As part of his deal, Kueng admitted that his restriction of Floyd was unreasonable and put him at significant risk.

‘Mr. Kueng was not just a spectator that day,” prosecutor Matthew Frank told the court. “He did less than what some of the bystanders tried to do to help Mr. Floyd.”

Lawyers for Kueng laid the blame squarely on the Minneapolis Police Department, which they said was responsible for miseducating Kueng and his colleagues.

They also pointed to Kueng’s inexperience, noting that he was on the force just days before Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.

“Mr. Kueng, the rookie, will spend a year in prison for every day he served the city,” his attorney Thomas Plunkett said.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Floyd family, said Kueng’s sentence is “another piece of justice for the Floyd family.”

He continued, “As the family faces 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.”

Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, is serving a 22 1/2 year sentence after pleading guilty to both murder and manslaughter. He also pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Two other former agents were charged in the wake of Floyd’s death. Thomas Lane, who was holding Floyd’s legs when he died, was sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to his charges.

Tou Thao, the officer who kept bystanders away from Floyd and the other officers, has pleaded not guilty to charges of complicity in murder and manslaughter. A state judge decides on his guilt in a trial with stipulated evidence.

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