Ex-Minneapolis rookie police officer sentenced to three years over Floyd's death

Kueng was the only black officer on the scene of Floyd's death during his third-ever shift as a full cop.

Updated: July 27, 2022 - 1:45pm

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Former Minneapolis Police Officer J. Alexander Kueng was sentenced Wednesday to three years in federal prison for violating George Floyd's federal civil rights during a fatal arrest.

Kueng was the only black officer on the scene Floyd's arrest in May 2020 and was working only his third shift as a full-fledged officer. He was sentenced below the guidelines due to his rookie status, said U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson, according to The Associated Press.

"You were truly a rookie officer," the judge told Kueng, who also said he received an "incredible number" of letters from other officers in support of the ex-policeman.

Prosecutors called for Kueng to receive 4.25 to 5.25 years behind bars, arguing that he "didn't say a word" as he held Floyd's back while former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during the arrest, which led to Floyd's death. 

Also on Wednesday, Tao Thao, who also was a Minneapolis Police Department officer at the time of the incident, received a 3.5-year sentence.

Thao kept bystanders away as Floyd was on the ground being arrested.

Last week, Magnuson sentenced former Minneapolis Officer Thomas Lane to 2.5 years in federal prison, also citing his rookie status for going below the recommended sentence.

Keung said he joined the Minneapolis police force because he thought "diversity could force change in a police department long accused of racism," The New York Times reported shortly after Floyd's death.