Kueng and State Agree on Guilty Plea while Thao Agrees to Judge Cahill’s Deciding His Case on Existing Record

Today, October 24th was to be the start of the state court criminal trial with jury selection for J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao on charges of aiding and abetting the manslaughter and murder of George Floyd.[1]

Instead today the selection of a jury for that trial did not happen when Kueng and the prosecution announced an agreement for his pleading guilty to aiding and abetting the second-degree manslaughter of Mr. Floyd and a prison sentence of three and a half years. Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said that the negotiated settlement included dismissal of a second count of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder and Kueng’s state sentence will be served concurrently with the federal sentence for three years he’s serving at the federal prison in Elkton, Ohio.[2]

After that announcement, co-defendant Tou Thao told District Judge Peter Cahill that he was giving up his right to a jury trial and agreeing instead to a trial only on the aiding and abetting the second-degree manslaughter charge by stipulated evidence. Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, said that means Cahill will review the evidence and issue a verdict within 90 days and that if the decision is guilty there will be a sentence of three to five years. By November 17th the parties will advise the court of the evidence to be considered and written closing arguments with the Judge to render his decision within the following 90 days.

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[1] E.g., Preparations for State Criminal Trial of Kueng and Thou Over Killing of George Floyd, dwkcommentaries.com (Oct. 13, 2022).

[2] Hyatt, Kueng pleads guilty to state charges in George Floyd killing, while Thao agrees to let judge decide his case, StarTribune (Oct. 24, 2022); Forliti, Ex-Minneapolis cop pleads guilty in George Floyd killing, AP News (Oct. 24, 2022); Bogel-Burroughs, Officer Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in George Floyd’s Death, N.Y. Times (Oct. 22, 2022).

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

One thought on “Kueng and State Agree on Guilty Plea while Thao Agrees to Judge Cahill’s Deciding His Case on Existing Record”

  1. Comment: Documents for Kueng Guilty Plea and Thao’s Bench Trial

    Kueng’s Guilty Plea

    On October 24, the following document was filed in J. Alexander Kueng’s criminal case in Hennepin County District Court: Petition to Enter Plea of Guilty in Felony Case Pursuant to Rule 15, State v. Kueng, Court File No. 27-CR-20-12953, Hennepin County District Court (Oct. 24, 2020), https://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12953-JAK/JK-PleaPetition.pdf

    In Kueng’s Petition after reciting his having discussed the case with his attorney and not being under any grounds for invalidating a guilty plea, Kueng stated that with this guilty plea to “Second degree manslaughter, culpable negligence,” the prosecutor will “Dismiss Count 1 [Murder 2nd Degree].” The Addendum to this document stated the following:

    • Kueng “agrees that his is guilty of Count 2 as charged, that he and “other officers encountered Mr. Floyd, handcuffed him and eventually restrained him in the prone position on the asphalt pavement with his stomach facing the ground and officers applying pressure to his neck, back, and legs for approximately 9 minutes and 29 seconds. The defendant knowingly and intentionally assisted in restraining Mr. Floyd by holding his torso.”
    • “Restraining a handcuffed person in the prone position in this manner poses a serious risk of death due to positional asphyxia. This is a known risk in the law enforcement profession and [Kueng] was conscious and aware of this risk based on his experience and training. The defendant had specific knowledge of the risk to Mr. Floyd because he perceived Mr. Floyd being restrained prone on the ground and was able to hear Mr. Floyd repeat that he could not breath numerous times during the restraint. The defendant was also aware that Mr. Floyd fell silent as the restraint continued, eventually did not have a pulse, and appeared to have lost consciousness. The defendant was then specifically aware that then-Officer Chauvin was restraining Mr. Floyd by placing his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck and upper back area, and that then-Officer Lane was restraining Mr. Floyd’s legs. At the time of the restraint, the defendant knew from his training that the officers should have placed Mr. Floyd in the side-recovery position to facilitate breathing. The defendant nonetheless continued to intentionally assist in the restraint, creating and consciously taking an unreasonable risk of causing death, and in fact caused the death of George Floyd.”
    • “The defendant agrees that the restraint of Mr. Floyd was unreasonable under the circumstances and constituted an unlawful use of force that is not authorized by Minnesota law.”

    Thao’s Documentation of Trial to Court on Stipulated Evidence

    On October 24 Defendant Tou Thao submitted to the Court his Waiver of Rights and Agreement Regarding Rule 26.01, subd. 3, Trial on Stipulated Evidence, State v. Thao, Court File No. 27-CR-20-12949, Hennepin County District Court (Oct. 24, 2020), https://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12949-TT/TT-StipulatedEvidenceAgreement.pdf

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