Two former police officers improperly sentenced in killing of George Floyd, judge rules
Two former Minneapolis police officers convicted of violating George Floyd’s civil rights had their sentence guidelines changed, potentially resulting in lower sentences, reported The Associated Press.
Lawyers for J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao argued that U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson should base their sentencing on involuntary manslaughter, rather than murder. The judge agreed, the August article said.
“The facts of the case do not amount to second-degree murder under federal law,” wrote the judge. “Defendants Kueng and Thao each made a tragic misdiagnosis in their assessment of Mr. Floyd.” Magnuson also wrote that both genuinely believed Floyd was under the influence of drugs and in an “excited delirium,” a disputed condition supposedly conveying exceptional strength.
The ruling lowers the minimum sentence from 19½ years to 2¼ years. But, since the former officers acted under the “color of law,” the 2¼ year minimum would increase to somewhere between 4¼ and 5¼ years, according to the article.
The former officers also face state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They have turned down plea deals and must stand trial in October. The court also convicted Kueng and Thao of failing to intervene to stop Derek Chau-vin from killing Floyd.
Thomas Lane, the fourth former officer involved in Floyd’s death, pled guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and awaits sentencing on federal charges of depriving Floyd of medical care. Lane received a sentence of 2½ years.
Chauvin’s state convictions of second-degree murder and manslaughter gave him a 22½-year sentence, to be served concurrently with his federal sentence. Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Kueng and Thao to less time than Chauvin but more than Lane.
Federal sentencing guidelines require complex formulae. The former officers’ convictions require cross-referencing with other offenses, creating the baseline for calculating a sentencing guideline. The additions or subtractions of other elements determine the final range for sentencing.
While Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes, Kueng held Floyd’s back and Thao controlled bystanders. Lane held Floyd’s feet. The killing, recorded by a bystander on video, made news worldwide and led to nationwide protests.