Two former Minneapolis police officers will be sentenced for violating George Floyd's civil rights next week.
Former officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were convicted in federal court in February of failing to provide medical aid to George Floyd, and failing to intervene with their former colleague, Derek Chauvin, when he killed Floyd by kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes.
Kueng and Thao are scheduled to be sentenced separately on the morning of July 27.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson ruled that the two men should be subject to a sentencing framework for manslaughter rather than the more severe sentence for murder. The men are subject to the guidelines because their violation of Floyd’s civil rights resulted in his death.
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The issue was argued during a Zoom hearing on Friday morning. Defense attorneys said their clients shouldn’t be subject to the more severe sentence of murder because their actions were not premeditated. Prosecutor Samantha Trepel countered that the former officers’ actions could be considered “willful and wanton,” and that they should be subject to the harsher sentencing framework.
Magnuson ruled that the former officers had misdiagnosed Floyd, and that the facts of the case don’t amount to second-degree murder under federal law.
“The evidence showed that Kueng genuinely thought that Mr. Floyd was suffering from excited delirium with a drug overdose, and Thao genuinely believed that the officers were dealing with a drug overdose with possible excited delirium,” Magnuson wrote in the ruling.
Magnuson also ruled that the men should be subject to a harsher sentencing framework because they abused their authority as law enforcement officers to violate Floyd’s civil rights.
The judge also deferred a decision about whether to consider the roles each officer played in the crimes against George Floyd as mitigating factors in sentencing. He said it's dependent on each defendant and the facts of the case, and that he’ll decide that at their sentencing.
Both Thao and Kueng also face charges for aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in state court. That trial is scheduled to start in October.
Thomas Lane, who was also convicted in federal court in February, was sentenced earlier this week to 30 months in federal prison. The judge has set his day of surrender to the federal Bureau of Prisons as Oct. 4.
Chauvin was sentenced earlier this month to more than 20 years in federal prison.