Friday, April 12

2 ex-Minneapolis officers sentenced to federal prison; 3.5 years for Thao, 3 years for Kueng


Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years (42 months) in federal prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights. His sentence will be followed by two years of supervised release.

Thao was sentenced just an hour after his fellow former officer, J. Alexander Kueng, was sentenced to three years for the same charges.

Again, Floyd family members, as well as both the prosecution and defense, spoke before Thao’s sentencing.

However, unlike before Kueng’s and former officer Thomas Lane’s sentencing, Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, didn’t offer words of encouragement but called for him to get the maximum sentence.

“Mr. Thao, as you watched my love being suffocated under the knee of your co-officer, I will never forget you saying to the onlookers, ‘This is why you don’t do drugs,’” Ross said.

She added that Thao’s words broke her heart and she hopes that when he’s scared in prison that he thinks about how Floyd was scared that day.

She finished her statement by saying, “This is why you don’t violate a person’s civil rights,” and reiterated her support for a maximum prison sentence for Thao.

Sabrina Montgomery, Floyd’s second cousin once removed, also briefly spoke and encouraged a max sentence.

Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, called Thao “a decent person who was just trying to do his job.”

Thao then got up and spoke at length for over 20 minutes about his faith and how he found God after going to jail.

Prosecutor LeeAnn Bell cited Thao’s experience and training, as well as his interactions with the crowd of bystanders, all of which she said he disregarded, as reasons for a longer sentence.

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“Untrained people, many of whom were not even 18 years old, saw the excessive force,” she said.

Following the sentencing hearings, a news conference was held outside the courthouse. You can view that in the video player below.

An update regarding Kueng’s sentencing can be seen below.


Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Kueng has been sentenced to three years (36 months) in federal prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights. His sentence will be followed by two years of supervised release.

Fellow former officer Tou Thao is set to be sentenced later Wednesday morning.

The defense and prosecutors argued for very different sentences for Kueng, and two Floyd family members also spoke before Kueng was sentenced Wednesday in St. Paul. Ultimately, the judge handed down a sentence of six months longer than former officer Thomas Lane, despite Kueng’s extra conviction of willfully failing to try to stop former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin from using unreasonable force on Floyd.

Courteney Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend, offered some words of encouragement to Kueng, saying his sentence won’t define him but his actions moving forward will.

“This does not mean you cannot find your footing to stand up for what’s right in the future,” Ross added.

Even Judge Magnuson found Ross’ statement moving, thanking her and calling her words, “a beautiful statement.”

Sabrina Montgomery, Floyd’s second cousin once removed, openly expressed disappointment in Magnuson’s sentences for Kueng’s fellow ex-officers Chauvin and Lane, and urged Magnuson to give Kueng the maximum penalty. She added that, in her opinion, Magnuson felt sympathetic for the former officers and didn’t hold them accountable.

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“All of these men deserve to serve longer sentences. The system these officers operated in is flawed, but again, where is their humanity?” she said.

Prosecutors added that Kueng testified that he knew his duty to intervene and failed to act.

“All he had to do per MPD policy was attempt to intervene,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda Sertich said. She noted Lane even gave him an opening by saying they should roll Floyd over.

Thomas Plunkett, Kueng’s attorney, said, “He’s a nice young man that attempted to help the community by taking on a difficult role … and now he’s being sentenced for that.” Plunkett added that prosecutors’ seeking a longer sentence would only “deepen the tragedy” of the case.

Lane, who – as previously reported – received a two-and-a-half year sentence just last week. Lane has also pleaded guilty to the state’s charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. He is expected to be sentenced for the state charge on Sept. 21.

A previous version of this report can be found below.


Two men formerly employed by the Minneapolis Police Department and who were found guilty of violating George Floyd’s civil rights will learn their fates Wednesday.

Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng are scheduled for back-to-back hearings on the sentences later in the morning.

Thao and Kueng were convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights in Feb. of 2022, however, Thao and Kueng were also convicted of willfully failing to try to stop former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin from using unreasonable force on Floyd.

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They could receive somewhere between just over 4-5 years, since Judge Magnuson issued a ruling last week that compared their crimes more closely to involuntary manslaughter instead of murder.

RELATED: Ruling may mean less time for 2 who violated Floyd’s rights

The big factor during Wednesday’s hearing will be if Judge Magnuson finds Kueng and Thao played a minimal role in the crime as he did Thomas Lane, who – as previously reported – received a two and a half year sentence just last week. Lane has also pleaded guilty to the state’s charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. He is expected to be sentenced for that charge on Sept. 21.

Prosecutors are asking for the officers to serve less time than Chauvin’s 21 year sentence, but to serve substantially more time than Lane.

Thao’s attorney is asking his client be sentenced to two years in prison, while Kueng’s attorney has filed his request under seal.

Another thing to watch Wednesday is that the sentencing could trigger another round of plea deals in state court, so the officers don’t receive a longer sentence than the federal one.

Their hearings are expected to begin at 10 and 11 a.m. in St. Paul.

CLICK HERE for full George Floyd coverage. A timeline can be found below of the events following Floyd’s death.

Stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com for updates on this developing news. Refresh your page to make sure you are seeing the most current information.



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