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2 guilty of violating Floyd's rights begin federal prison terms

J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are now listed as prisoners on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, Kueng in Lisbon, OH and Thao in Lexington, KY.
Credit: Hennepin County Jail
J. Alexander Kueng (left) and Tou Thao (right)

MINNEAPOLIS — Two of the four former Minneapolis police officers convicted of violating George Floyd’s civil rights during the May 2020 restraint that killed him are now serving their federal sentences.

J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are now listed on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, Kueng as an inmate at a facility in Lisbon, Ohio while Thao is incarcerated in Lexington, Kentucky. Both are scheduled to go to trial on state charges of aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter later this month.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office said it anticipates Kueng and Thao will be transferred into its custody for the trial, but further specifics were not provided for security reasons. The U.S. Marshals Service did not return messages, nor did defense attorneys for the former MPD officers. 

The Federal Bureau of Prisons said Tuesday it could not release information about Kueng and Thao until they arrive at their destination. But in the cases of their co-defendants — former officers Derek Chauvin and Thomas Lane — a federal prison assignment was made public before the men reported to custody.

RELATED: Ex-cop Lane will report to Colorado prison in Floyd killing

Kueng, Thao and Lane were convicted earlier this year of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care as the 46-year-old Black man was pinned under Chauvin’s knee for 9 1/2 minutes while handcuffed and facedown on the street. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs and Thao kept bystanders back.

Thao and Kueng were also convicted of a second count for failing to intervene and stop Chauvin during the killing, which was captured in bystander video and sparked worldwide protests as part of a reckoning over racial injustice.

In July, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson sentenced Kueng to three years in prison and Thao to 3½ years on the federal counts. After their sentences, there were questions about whether they would take a plea deal on the state aiding and abetting charges. But they told Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill in August that they rejected plea agreements in the state case.

Their state trial begins Oct. 24 with jury selection; opening statements are set for Nov. 7.

Lane avoided a state trial by pleading guilty in May to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to three years on the state conviction, and 2 1/2 years on the federal conviction. He is serving both sentences concurrently at a low-security federal prison camp in Littleton, Colorado.

Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and was given a 22 1/2-year state sentence in 2021. He also pleaded guilty to a federal count of violating Floyd’s civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years on the federal charge. He is serving the sentences at the same time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona.

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