J. Alexander Kueng, the former Minneapolis police officer who placed his knees on George Floyd's back, was given a 3 1/2-year prison term for aiding and abetting manslaughter.
Kueng pleaded guilty in October to a state count of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. His guilty plea, combined with another officer's choice to let the judge decide his ultimate fate ultimately prevented a third trial.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes. His death which a bystander filmed went viral, and led to protests across the globe as part of a larger discussion about racial injustice.
While Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck, Kueng knelt on Floyd's back. Then-officer Thomas Lane restrained Floyd's legs. Tou Thao, also an officer at the time, prevented onlookers from getting involved or aiding Floyd. Chauvin, Kueng, Lane and Thao were all fired and charged on state and federal level.
Kueng, who is already serving a federal sentence in a low-security federal prison in Ohio for violating Floyd's civil rights, participated in Friday's sentencing session through Zoom.
As part of his plea deal, Kueng acknowledged that he helped restrain Floyd's torso, and that he was aware from experience and training that holding someone handcuffed while holding down his back was unsafe. He further acknowledged that Floyd's restraint was inappropriate, given the situation.
Kueng consented to a state sentence of 3 1/2 years in prison. He also got credit for the 84 days that he had already served.
Though the state case against Thao is still pending, Kueng's sentencing moves the charges against all of the former cops one step closer to finality.
Floyd's family did not provide formal impact statements. Still, prosecutor Matthew Frank stated that the actions of Kueng, Chauvin and the other two policemen did the field of law enforcement a "disservice."