scheduled tribe. Paul, Min. ( Associated Press) — The last two former Minneapolis police officers to be sentenced for George Floyd’s civil rights violations are set to learn their sentencing Wednesday, sparking another round of debate in a state court over a murder. can provide speed. An echo broke out over racial injustice.
Jay Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were indicted in February on two counts of violation of Floyd’s civil rights in the 2020 murder. The jury found that they denied medical care to a 46-year-old black man and failed to stop Derek Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes while Floyd gasped for air.
Kueng held Floyd’s back, former officer Thomas Lane held his leg, and Thao held back onlookers, some of whom recorded the video that led to protests around the world.
Chauvin, who pleaded guilty last year to violating Floyd’s civil rights and the civil rights of a juvenile in an unrelated case, was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison. Lane, who asked twice whether Floyd should be turned on his side so he could breathe, was convicted of one count and sentenced to 2 1/2.
Prosecutors have not made specific recommendations for the sentencing of Kueng and Thao, but have requested less time from Chauvin and “substantially” more than Lane. Thao’s lawyer has been asking for two years; Kueng’s request has been sealed.
Kueng and Thao got a win last week when US District Judge Paul Magnusson issued rulings that affect how their federal sentence will be calculated and could mean reduced prison time. The ruling — especially one that cross-references their crimes with involuntary manslaughter rather than manslaughter — means men go to Wednesday’s hearing with a recommended range of 4 1/4 years to 5 1/4 years. . He may have faced a sentence of life imprisonment.
“It made a huge difference,” said Mark Osler, a professor at the University of St. Thomas’ School of Law and former federal prosecutor. “Its effect is already baked in now.”
Osler said one key is if Magnussen determines that Kueng and Thao were “minor” or “minimal” participants in the crime. Magnusson found that Lane was a minimal participant, resulting in a shorter sentence. Osler said a minor participant would be more guilty.
“You have one officer who has at least made some effort to change the trajectory, and that’s Lane. You’re most directly involved in the murder of George Floyd, and that’s Derek Chauvin — and then you have both of these.” are in the middle,” Osler said.
The prospect of a reduced sentence for Kueng and Thao raises questions about whether they will consider a plea deal or a risk trial in a state court on October 24, where they will plead second-degree murder and aid and abetment of second-degree murder. face the count.
Osler said that once the men know what their federal sentence is, they will seek a plea on state charges that will not exceed the federal sentence and let them serve simultaneous sentences.
Kueng and Thao can still appeal against their federal conviction. If they plead guilty in state court, any federal appeals would be moot, said Mike Brandt, a criminal defense attorney who is pursuing the case. But winning a federal appeal is also difficult, he said.
“There are some calculations they’re going to do, ‘Do I go to trial and do something worse? Do I think I have a good shot at appealing the federal case?'” Brandt said. .
Kueng, who is black, and Thao, who is Hmong American, will likely remain free on bond after Wednesday’s sentencing and will be allowed to self-report in prison, especially since they have a pending trial and need to be on their own. Will need to be in touch with lawyers. and be present for the court proceedings.
Lane, who is white, pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing in that case. After his federal sentence he was allowed to remain free on bond.
Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter in state court and is serving a 22 1/2-year state sentence. Their federal and state sentences are being served simultaneously.
Watch Associated Press’s full coverage of the killing of George Floyd here: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd