ST. PAUL, Minn. —
The last two former Minneapolis police officers who were convicted of violating George Floyd’s civil rights during his May 2020 killing were sentenced Wednesday in federal court to three years and 3½ years in prison, respectively — penalties that a judge said reflected their level of culpability in a case that sparked worldwide protests as part of a reckoning over racial injustice.
J. Alexander Kueng was sentenced to three years and Tao Thao got 3½ years. They were convicted in February of two counts of violating Floyd’s civil rights. The jury found they deprived the 46-year-old Black man of medical care and failed to stop fellow officer Derek Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes.
As Chauvin pinned Floyd’s neck, Kueng held Floyd’s back, Officer Thomas Lane held his feet and Thao kept bystanders back during the killing, which was recorded by bystanders.
The federal government brought the civil rights charges against all four officers in May 2021, a month after Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in state court. Their prosecution was seen as an affirmation of the Justice Department’s priorities to address racial inequities in policing, a promise made by President Biden before his election. And they came just a week after federal prosecutors brought hate crime charges in the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and announced two sweeping probes into policing in two states.
Kueng and Thao were convicted in February of two counts of violating Floyd’s civil rights. The jury found they deprived the 46-year-old Black man of medical care and failed to stop Chauvin.
Kueng and Thao still face a state court trial on Oct. 24 on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin, who pleaded guilty last year to violating Floyd’s civil rights and the rights of a teenager in an unrelated case, was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison. Lane, who twice asked if Floyd should be rolled onto his side so he could breathe, was convicted of one count and was sentenced last week to 2½ years — punishment that Floyd’s brother Philonise called “insulting.”
Lane, who is white, pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and is awaiting sentencing in that case. He was allowed to remain free on bond after his federal sentencing.
Chauvin, who is white, was sentenced to a 22½-year state sentence in addition to his federal sentence. Those sentences are being served simultaneously.