Minneapolis ex-cops Kueng and Thao reject manslaughter plea

The two remaining Minneapolis ex-cops set to stand trial in the murder of George Floyd have opted out of a potential plea deal, they told a judge Monday.

J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao formally rejected a plea deal from state prosecutors that would have given them three-year sentences, according to the Associated Press.

They are both scheduled to be tried starting Oct. 24 on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The two were teamed with then-officers Thomas Lane and Derek Chauvin in May 2020 when they responded to a call from someone suspecting Floyd was trying to pass a counterfeit $20.

When Floyd became anxious and resisted being shoved into the back of a cruiser, Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes as the handcuffed, 46-year-old Black man begged for air and called out for his mother before dying.

Thao held back concerned bystanders and Kueng pinned his back, while Lane held his feet. The videotaped encounter sparked a national racial reckoning against racism and police brutality.

All three officers were convicted in February of violating Floyd’s civil rights. Kueng received a three-year prison sentence on those charges, Thao got 3½ years, and Lane, who had broached the subject of turning Floyd on his side, received 2½ years. Chauvin pleaded guilty to the federal civil rights charges and received a 20-year sentence.

Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in state criminal court last year and sentenced to 22½ years, to be served concurrently. Lane pleaded guilty in May to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, accepting a plea deal, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 21.

Thao and Keung have yet to be sentenced on the federal civil rights charges and have stuck with their not-guilty plea on the manslaughter accusations. They are also planning to appeal their civil rights convictions.

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