Derek Chauvin Asks Minnesota Supreme Court To Review His Conviction for Killing of George Floyd     

As previously reported, in April 2021, a jury in Hennepin County District Court returned a verdict that Derek Chauvin was guilty on all three counts (second degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter) of George Floyd in May 2020. In June 2021 that court imposed a sentence of 22.5 years imprisonment on Mr. Chauvin for these crimes.[1]

On April 17, 2023, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed that conviction.[2]

On May 17, 2023, Chauvin appealed that decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court, stating that the legal issues to be reviewed were the following:

  1. “Whether the district court’s failure to either transfer venue, delay the trial or sequester the jury deprived Petitioner of state rights and constitutional due process to a fair trial because (i) the district court failed to presume juror prejudice due to pervasive adverse publicity and violence in the community or (ii) the district court abused its discretion.”
  2. “Whether (i) police officers acting to effect lawful arrests can be convicted of second- degree felony murder when the predicate felony required only intent to contact, with no subjective intent to use what is later adjudicated as objectively unreasonable force or (ii) Minnesota should abrogate felony murder where the predicate felony is assault.”
  3. “Whether the jury instruction on ‘reasonableness’ police use-of-force was material error.”
  4. “Whether upward sentence departures are misapplied when defendant’s conduct was without subjective intent.”
  5. Whether denying a Schwartz hearing after defendant presented prima facie evidence of juror misconduct deprives defendants of the constitutional right to trial by impartial jury.”[3]

The Minnesota Supreme Court could decline to review the Court of Appeals decision or decide to conduct such a review after the parties submit detailed briefs and present arguments at a hearing and thereafter submit the Supreme Court’s decision.

This blogger thinks that the Supreme Court probably will decline to grant review. In the meantime, Chauvin is serving concurrent state and federal convictions for Floyd’s killing in a federal prison.


[1]  Derek Chauvin Trial:  Week Seven (CONVICTION), (April 21, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Chauvin Sentenced to 22.5 Years Imprisonment, (June 28, 2021).

[2]  Minnesota Court of Appeals Affirms Chauvin’s State Court Conviction for Killing of George Floyd, (April 19, 2023).

[3] Karnowski (AP),  Chauvin appeals conviction in George Floyd’s murder to the Minnesota Supreme Court, StarTribune (May 17, 2023); Petition for Review, Chauvin v.State, Minn. Sup. Ct. # A21-1228 (May 17, 2023).

Tou Thao, ex-MPD Officer, Convicted for Aiding and Abetting Second-Degree Manslaughter of George Floyd

On May 1, 2023, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill, after a trial on stipulated evidence, issued the Verdict that Tou Thao, a former MPD officer, “committed and is GUILTY of the offense of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in violation of Minn. Stat. [section] 609.05, Subd. 1, 609.205(1) in connection with the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 . . . and is hereby convicted of that offense.” [1]

In its 177-page Verdict, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Memorandum Opinion in Stipulated Evidence Trial, the Court’s summary of the key evidence on this charge stated the following:

  • “Thao actively encouraged his three colleagues’ [Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane] dangerous prone restraint of Floyd while holding back a crowd of concerned bystanders begging the officers to render medical aid. Thao knew, as the minutes passed and the restraint continue unimpeded, that Floyd had stopped talking and fallen silent, had stopped moving altogether, and had become totally unresponsive. In fact, by about six minutes into the restraint, Floyd stopped breathing, lost consciousness, and became pulseless.”
  • “Thao, Chauvin’s partner on that night, was an experienced Minneapolis police officer with almost a decade’s experience. He knew that the officers’ prone restraint could kill. Like the other officers, Thao had been trained specifically to turn an individual onto his side to avoid positional asphyxia, the very thing that several eminent medical specialists who testified at trial concluded caused Floyd’s death. Like the bystanders, Thao could see Floyd’s life slowly ebbing away as the restraint continued. Yet Thao made a conscious decision to actively participate in Floyd’s death: he held back the concerned bystanders and even prevented an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter from rendering the medical aid Floyd so desperately needed.”
  • “Thao also directly insisted upon continuing the restraint that took Floyd’s death that night. Soon after Floyd had been subdued prone on the street, Thao retrieved a device called a ‘hobble’ from Lane’s and Kueng’s squad. If properly employed, that hobble would have saved Floyd’s life. But Thao encouraged the other officers not to use the hobble and instead to ‘hold on’ and continue the physical restraint by which his three fellow officers were bearing down on Floyd, forcing him into the unyielding concrete of the street, drastically inhibiting his ability to breathe effectively. Thao’s stated reason? ‘If we hobble him, the sergeant is going to have to come out’ to complete the paper work for a ‘use of force review’ mandated by MPD policy whenever the hobble is employed. The short of it: Tou Thao did not want to follow the proper protocol and the work it would entail. George Floyd died as a result.”

Parties’ Attorneys’ Comments on this Verdict[2]

 After this Verdict was filed, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison stated, “The conviction of Tou Thao is historic and the right outcome. It brings one more measure of accountability in the tragic death of George Floyd. Accountability is not justice, but it is a step on the road to justice.”

Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, said he plans to appeal the verdict. “I respectfully disagree with the decision, and I think [the Judge] expands the doctrine of aiding and abetting beyond what we’ve seen [defined] at the appellate level.” His client was “disappointed. He really is.”


Now all four of the ex-MPD officers involved in the killing of George Floyd have been found guilty of state and federal criminal charges for same.



[1] Verdict, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Memorandum Opinion in Stipulated Evidence Trial, State v. Thao, Mn. Dist. Ct., Ct. File No. 27-CR-20-12949 (May 1, 2023); Walsh & Hyatt, Tou Thao, ex-MPD officer charged in George Floyd’s killing, found guilty, StarTribune (May 2, 2023); Karnowski (AP). Ex-officer Thao convicted of aiding George Floyd’s killing, AP News (May 2, 2023). Most of the prior developments in the state and federal criminal trials of the four ex-officers are covered in this blog’s previous posts. (See List of Posts to dwkcommentaries—Topical: George Floyd Killing.)

[2] Minnesota Attorney General Ellison. Tou Thao convicted of 2nd-degree manslaughter in murder of George Floyd (May 1, 2023).  This document included a similar statement by Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty.


Minnesota Court of Appeals Affirms Chauvin’s State Court Conviction for Killing of George Floyd

On April 17, 2023, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed Derek Chauvin’s state court conviction, after a jury trial, for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.[1]

This blog already has provided extensive information about the actual killing of Mr. Floyd,[2] and Chauvin’s criminal trial,[3]

Minnesota Appellate Court’s Opinion[4]

The appellate decision was set forth in an unanimous 50-page decision authored by Presiding Judge Peter M. Reyes, Jr. that was joined by Appellate Judge Elise L. Larson and Senior Appellate Judge Roger M. Klaphake (serving by appointment as a Senior Judge of that court).

After the first 48 pages providing  great details about the law and facts of this case, the court sets forth the following “DECISION:”

  • “Police officers undoubtedly have a challenging, difficult, and sometimes dangerous job. However, no one is above the law. When they commit a crime, they must be held accountable just as those individuals that they lawfully apprehend. The law only permits police officers to use reasonable force when effecting a lawful arrest. Chauvin crossed that line here when he used unreasonable force on Floyd.”
  • “We hold that, when a criminal defendant moves to change venue, continue trial, or sequester the jury alleging that publicity surrounding the trial created either actual or presumed juror prejudice, a district court does not abuse its discretion by denying the motions if it takes sufficient mitigating steps and verifies that the jurors can set aside their impressions or opinions and deliver a fair and impartial verdict. We also hold that a police officer can be convicted of second-degree unintentional felony murder for causing the death of another by using unreasonable force constituting third-degree assault to effect a lawful arrest. “
  • “In addition, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by (1) denying Chauvin’s request for a Schwartz hearing; (2) its jury instructions; (3) allowing the state to present seven witnesses on the use-of-force issue; (4) excluding from admission a presentation slide from MPD training materials; (5) denying Chauvin’s new-trial motion based on alleged prosecutorial misconduct; (6) excluding an unavailable witness’s out-ofcourt statement; and (7) departing upward from the presumptive range under the sentencing guidelines. We further conclude that Chauvin is not entitled to a new trial based upon the district court’s failure to ensure that sidebar conferences were transcribed and that any alleged cumulative error did not deny Chauvin a fair trial. Finally, we decline to address Chauvin’s challenge to his third-degree-murder conviction because the district court did not convict Chauvin of or sentence for this offense.”


 Chauvin has the right to petition the Minnesota Supreme Court to review this decision, but the Supreme Court may deny the petition without hearing arguments, and this blogger believes that such a petition should be denied.

In addition,as previously argued in this blog, Chauvin’s guilty plea to related charges in federal court should be another ground for rejecting any Chauvin appeals, but this argument was not mentioned by the Court of Appeals. [5]


[1] Hyatt, Minnesota Court of Appeals rejects Derek Chauvin’s request for new trial in George Floyd killing, StarTribune (April 17, 2023); Bailey, Minnesota appeals court rejects Chauvin’s request for new trial in Floyd killing, Wash. Post (April 17, 2023).

[2]  See posts listed in  “The Killing of George Floyd (May 25, 2020)“ section of List of Posts to dwkcommentaries Topical: George Floyd Killing.

[3] See posts listed in the “Derek Chauvin State Criminal Trial” section of List of Posts to dwkcommentaries Topical: George Floyd Killing.

[4] Minnesota Court of Appeals, Opinion, State v. Chauvin, No. A21-1228 (April 17, 2023);

[5]  Derek Chauvin’s Appeal of State Conviction and Sentencing for Killing George Floyd, (Jan. 23, 2023).

City of Minneapolis Settles Other Derek Chauvin Cases

On April 13, 2023, the Minneapolis City Council agreed to pay two citizens nearly $9 million to settle their lawsuits alleging misconduct by former officer Derek Chauvin before his leading the now infamous killing of George Floyd in May 2021.  [1]

Lawsuit by John Pope, Jr.

One lawsuit was brought by John Pope Jr., a black man, who will receive a $7.5 million settlement.

His lawsuit alleged that in 2017, when he was 14 years old, his mother was drunk when she called police because she was upset that he and his 16-year-old sister left their cell phone chargers plugged in, leading to a physical confrontation. It alleged Chauvin struck Pope in the head with a large metal flashlight at least four times. It says he then put Pope in a chokehold before pinning him to the floor and putting his knee on Pope’s neck.  ”Chauvin would proceed to hold John in this prone position for more than fifteen minutes, all while John was completely subdued and not resisting,” the complaint alleged. ”Over those minutes, John repeatedly cried out that he could not breathe.”

The Pope complaint alleged that at least eight other officers did nothing to intervene. It also said Chauvin did not mention in his report that he had hit Pope with his flashlight, nor did he mention pinning Pope for so long. Chauvin’s sergeant reviewed and approved his report and use of force ”despite having firsthand knowledge that the report was false and misleading,” the lawsuit alleged.

Chauvin admitted to many of these allegations when in December 2021 he pleaded guilty to federal charges regarding Pope and was sentenced in July 2022 to 21 years on these charges.

Lawsuit by Zoya Code

The other lawsuit was brought by Zoya Code, a black woman, who will receive $1.375 million in her settlement. In September 2017 she was 14 years old and allegedly tried to strangle her mother with an extension cord. When Chauvin responded to a call about this situation, he put Zoya in handcuffs, slammed her head into the ground and put his knee on the back of her neck for 4 minutes and 41 seconds. Another officer at the scene did not intervene to stop Chauvin, and a responding police sergeant approved Chauvin’s use of force.

City Officials’ Reactions to These Settlements[2]

Also on April 13, immediately after the approval of the above settlements, Minneapolis Chief of Police Brian O’Hara and Mayor Jacob Frey announced their reactions.

The Police Chief stated the department is “forced to reckon once again with the deplorable acts of someone who has proven to be a national embarrassment.” But he also cited “systemic failure” within the Minneapolis Police Department. “I am appalled at the repetitive behavior of this coward and disgusted by the inaction and acceptance of that behavior by members of this department. Such conduct is a disgrace to the badge and an embarrassment to what is truly a very noble profession.”

“The Minneapolis police has a tradition to recycle the badge numbers that are no longer assigned to a current officer. [Chauvin’s badge, however,] betrayed and so egregiously dishonored, will be destroyed, and the badge number permanently removed from our rosters so that no future Minneapolis police officer should have to wear it.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey apologized to all Chauvin’s victims and said that if police supervisors “had done the right thing, George Floyd would not have been murdered. He should have been fired in 2017. He should have been held accountable in 2017.” Frey added that the actions about his police badge was a “symbolic but important attempt” to purge the city of Chauvin’s legacy.

The Mayor’s written statement also discussed the progress that the City and MPD has made.

“Over the past couple of years, the City has continued a sustained push to shift the culture within the MPD. Since June 2020, Mayor Jacob Frey and MPD leadership have implemented sweeping changes, including overhauling the discipline matrix, multiple revisions to the Use of Force policy, updating the Field Training Officer program, a complete ban on neck restraints, affirmative duty to physically intervene, requiring officers to complete ABLE Training and more.”

“Most recently, the City and MPD entered into a court-enforceable settlement agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Under the agreement, there is an entire section dedicated to Use of Force including:

  • Establishing new “levels” to more clearly define reportable uses of force.
  • Except for in critical incidents, requires each officer who uses level 2 or level 3 reportable use of force, and each officer who is physically present and witnessed the use of force, to accurately and thoroughly record all information in the required systems for each reportable use of force.
  • Requiring a supervisor to respond to the scene if significant force is used, which is based on the new reportable levels of force.
  • Requiring officer who uses reportable force to document the reason for the initial interaction.
  • Prohibiting officers from sharing information with another officer for the purpose of creating or producing force reports and documentation.”

“There are also many provisions within the agreement that bolster accountability, oversight, and supervisor review processes. Some examples include creating a new MPD Review Panel, chaired by the chief or their designee, to review, analyze and assess MPD’s enforcement practices, directing significant investment to new IT infrastructure such as new data collection, management and analysis systems to improve accountability, transparency and public safety, and new supervisory review processes that hold both supervisors and supervisees accountable.”

“The U.S. Department of Justice also has an ongoing pattern or practice investigation into the City and the MPD.”

“Additionally, the City recently approved an ordinance establishing a 15-member Community Commission on Police Oversight designed to improve transparency and accountability. This Commission should convene later this spring.”


[1]  Salter, Minneapolis to pay $8.9M over Chauvin’s actions before Floyd, StarTribune (April 13, 2023); Salter, Minneapolis to pay $8.9M over Chauvin’s actions before Floyd, Assoc. Press (April 13, 2023).

[2] Orrick, Derek Chauvin’s badge will be destroyed and no cop will have number 1087 again, StarTribune (April 13, 2023); Mayor Frey, City reaches settlements in lawsuits involving former MDP officer Derek Chauvin (April 13, 2023).


Derek Chauvin’s Ex-Wife Pleads Guilty to Income Tax Evasion

In May 2020, only two days after Derek Chauvin, an ex-Minneapolis police officer, was charged with crimes under Minnesota law for the killing of George Floyd, Kellie Chauvin, Derek’s wife, filed for divorce in Minnesota state court. And in July 2020 the Chauvins were charged in Minnesota state court with nine felony counts of state income tax evasion, underreporting more than $464,000 of income and owing the State of Minnesota nearly $38,000 of state income taxes. Both of them in November 2021 pleaded not guilty to these charges. [1]

On February 24, 2023, Kellie Chauvin, now the ex-wife of Derek, in Minnesota state court pleaded guilty to state felony charges of aiding and abetting false or fraudulent state income tax returns for 2014-19 and not paying such taxes for 2016-18.[2]


[1] The Chauvins’ personal legal problems were discussed in the following prior posts: Derek Chauvin’s Divorce Petition Raises Questions (July 8, 2020); Chauvin and Wife Now Charged with Minnesota Tax Crimes (July 22, 2020); State Court Rejects Chauvin Divorce Settlement (Nov. 20, 2020); Complications in Derek Chauvin Divorce Case (Jan. 20, 2021); Comment: Court Approves Redacted Chauvin Divorce Agreement (Feb. 4, 2021); Derek Chauvin and Ex-Wife Plead Not Guilty to Tax-Evasion Charges (Nov. 6, 2021).

(2) Hyatt, Derek Chauvin’s ex-wife pleads guilty to tax evasion, StarTribune (Feb. 24, 2023)

Briefs in Tou Thao’s State Court Criminal Case Over Killing of George Floyd 

October 24, 2022, was the scheduled date for starting the state criminal trial of  former Minneapolis Police officers Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng  for the killing of George Floyd. Instead that day Thao told Hennepin County District Court 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. (That same day Kueng and the prosecution announced to the Court that they had negotiated an agreement for a guilty plea by Kueng.) [1]

Thus, January 30, 2023, marked the filing of the parties’ briefs in the Thao state criminal case. [2]

Thao’s Brief

Thao’s attorney argued that Thao is innocent of criminal wrongdoing and should be acquitted on state charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. This is the necessary conclusion from the state’s failing to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Thao knew that Chauvin was committing a crime or that Thao intended to aid in a crime.

Thao “reasonably believed” that Floyd was experiencing a controversial set of symptoms known as “excited delirium” and that the actions he took at the scene were with the intention of helping to get Floyd medical attention faster because he was trained to view excited delirium as life threatening.. Every one of Thao’s actions was done based upon the training he received from the Minneapolis Police Department.

Based on his training and experience, “Thao reasonable believed that Floyd could be experiencing excited delirium and that Chauvin was acting within the bounds of hi legal authority because MPD repeatedly had trained its officers to do just that. In addition, Thao acted repeatedly and intentionally to get [Floyd] the proper medical attention

Thao acknowledged he heard onlookers becoming more anxious about Floyd’s condition and calling on officers to check his pulse. But he said his role was control of the crowd of about 15 bystanders. While he acknowledged hearing Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe,” he said he didn’t know there was anything seriously wrong with him even as an ambulance took him away.

Prosecution’s Brief

Prosecutors argued in their brief that Thao “acted without courage and displayed no compassion” despite his nearly nine years of experience and that he disregarded his training even though he could see Floyd’s life slowly ebbing away.

 Prosecutor Matthew Frank disputed the excited delirium defense, writing that even witnesses who believe excited delirium exists testified previously that Floyd displayed none of the symptoms.

“Thao was aware that his three colleagues were on top of Floyd, and were restraining Floyd in the prone position. Thao knew that this prone restraint was extremely dangerous because it can cause asphyxia — the inability to breathe — the exact condition from which Floyd repeatedly complained he was suffering. Yet Thao made the conscious decision to aid that dangerous restraint by  actively encouraging the other three officers, and assisting their crime by holding back concerned bystanders.”


Cahill has 90 days to rule and hand down a sentence if he finds Thao guilty. He’ll base his decision on evidence agreed to by both sides — exhibits and transcripts from Chauvin’s 2021 murder trial in state court and the federal civil rights trial of Thao, Kueng and Thomas Lane last year. Thao was specifically convicted then of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care and of failing to intervene and stop Chauvin.

If Thao is convicted of aiding and abetting manslaughter, Minnesota guidelines recommend four years on the manslaughter count. He would serve his state term concurrent with his federal sentence.


[1]  Kueng and State Agree on Guilty Plea while Thao Agrees to Judge Cahill’s Deciding His Case on Existing Record, (Oct. 24, 2022).

[2] Karnowski, Fate of last ex-cop charged in Floyd murder, AP News (Feb. 1. 2023); State’s Closing Argument, State v. Thao, Court File No. 27-
CR-20,12949, Henn. County Dist. Ct. (Jan. 31, 2023); Defendant Thao’s Closing Argument, Court File No. 27-CR-20,12949, Henn. County Dist. Ct. (Jan. 31, 2023).


Derek Chauvin’s Appeal of State Conviction and Sentencing for Killing of George Floyd 

In  April 2021,  a jury in Hennepin County District Court returned a verdict that Derek Chauvin was guilty on all three counts (second degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter) of George Floyd. Then in June 2021 the court imposed a sentence of 22.5 years imprisonment on Mr. Chauvin for these crimes.[1]

After Chauvin found a new law firm that was willing to take an appeal in this state case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals on January 18, 2023, heard oral arguments in that appeal. A summary of that argument follows. [2]

Arguments to Minnesota Court of Appeals

Chauvin’s attorney asserted that Chauvin allegedly failed to get a fair trial in light of the extensive pretrial publicity about the killing of George Floyd and the trial’s being conducted in a courthouse “that’s surrounded by concrete block, barbed wire, two armored personnel carriers and a squad of National Guard troops all . . . there for one purpose: in the event the jury acquits the defendant.” As a result, the court abused its discretion in denying a change of venue.

Chauvin’s attorney also argued that during jury selection one juror allegedly lied about never participating in a protest in Minneapolis. But one of the appellate judges said he did not think this juror lied because he attended a Martin L. King, Jr. rally in Washington, D.C. while  admitting  he supported Black Lives Matter and seven times said he could be a fair juror. After all of that, Chauvin’s attorney chose not to strike him as a juror.

Chauvin’s attorney also argued that the prosecutors failed to prove sufficient probable cause.

On behalf of the prosecution, Neal Katyal from Washington, D.C. said Chauvin got “one of the most transparent and thorough trials in our nation’s history. Chauvin’s many arguments  . . . do not come close to justifying reversal. Judge Cahill managed this trial with enormous care and even if Chauvin could identify some minor fault, any error is harmless. The evidence of Chauvin’s guilt was captured on video for the world to see.

Katyal also said the juror in question accurately answered the questions and repeatedly insisted he could render an impartial verdict. And the defense did not use any of its three preemptory strikes to remove him, which indicated defense satisfaction with the juror.


The Chauvin appeal and arguments in the state case seem a waste of effort and money in light of Chauvin’s guilty plea in the federal case when he admitted in writing that certain facts were true . . .[and] established his  guilt beyond a reasonable doubt].”[3] Those admissions included the following:

  • Chauvin, ‘while acting under color of law . . . willfully deprived George Floyd of . . . the right to be free from an unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer. [Chauvin] . . . held his left knee across Mr. Floyd’s neck, back, and shoulder, and his right knee on Mr. Floyd’s back and arm. As Mr. Floyd lay on the ground, handcuffed and unresisting, [Chauvin] . . . kept his knees on Floyd’s neck and body, even after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive. This offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, George Floyd.”
  • Chauvin “admits that in using this unreasonable and excessive force, he acted willfully and in callous and wanton disregard of the consequences to Mr. Floyd’s life. [Chauvin] . . . knew that what he was doing was wrong, in part, because it was contrary to his training as an MPD officer..”
  • Chauvin “also knew there was no legal justification to continue his use of force because he was aware that Mr. Floyd not only stopped resisting, but also stopped talking, stopped moving, stopped breathing, and lost consciousness and a pulse.’ [Chauvin] . . .chose to continue applying force even though he knew Mr. Floyd’s condition progressively worsened. . . . [Chauvin] also heard Mr. Floyd repeatedly explain that he could not breathe, was in pain, and wanted help.”
  • Chauvin “knew that what he was doing was wrong—that continued force was no longer appropriate and that it posed significant risks to Mr. Floyd’s life—based on what he observed and heard about Mr. Floyd.”
  • Chauvin “admits that he failed to render medical aid to Mr. Floyd, as he was capable of doing, and trained and required to do.”


[1] Derek Chauvin Trial:  Week Seven (CONVICTION), (April 21, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Chauvin Sentenced to 22.5 Years Imprisonment, (June 28, 2021).

[2]  Hyatt, Derek Chauvin’s attorney asks Minnesota Court of Appeals for a new trial, StarTribune (Jan. 18, 2023); Karnowski, Court asked to void verdict against ex-cop in Floyd’s murder, AP News (Jan. 18, 2023).

[3] Derek Chauvin Pleads Guilty to Federal Criminal Charges Over Killing of George Floyd,  (Dec. 16, 2021). Comment: Federal Court Accepts Chauvin’s Plea Agreement, (July 7, 2022); Plea Agreement and Sentencing Stipulations, U.S. v. Chauvin, U.S. Dist. Ct., Dist. MN, # 21-CR-108 (Dec. 15, 2001).


Minnesota State District Court Sentences Kueng for Helping To Kill George Floyd   

On October 24, 2022, Minnesota’s Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill held a hearing in the state’s criminal case against former Minneapolis police officer, J. Alexander Kueng, for aiding and abetting the manslaughter and murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.   [1]

Instead of the scheduled selection of a jury for the trial of those charges that day, 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 the second count of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder and Kueng’s state sentence to be be served concurrently with his federal sentence for three years he’s serving at the federal prison in Elkton, Ohio.

In accordance with that settlement, on December 9, 2022, Judge Cahill at a short hearing imposed that three and a half year sentence on Kueng, who appeared virtually from that federal prison, but said nothing.[2]

Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank at this hearing said while he appreciates this guilty plea and Kueng’s taking responsibility for what he did, “it just took too long to get there. Mr. Kueng was not simply a bystander in what happened that day. In fact, he did less than some of the bystanders tried to do to help with Mr. Floyd.”

Frank also said that Floyd’s family and friends are trying to move on with healing, but that’s difficult to do with ongoing court proceedings. He added that prosecution has focused on the conduct of officers causing Floyd’s death, not an “examination on policing in general.”

Frank added, “But if some lessons can come from this case, all the better … Being a peace officer is a very difficult job, it is truly a profession. But part of that profession is dealing with people every day who are not having their best day. Who are struggling with mental health, who are struggling with addiction and other anxieties.”

According to Frank, providing medical assistance is part of the job, but officers didn’t do that for Floyd. “Mr. Kueng was more than just a rookie. He had taken all the education, gone through all the training and experience to become a licensed peace officer. He learned the law. He swore an oath to protect life, to put the sanctity of life as the highest command of the job. But that day, he did not follow that training or that oath … George Floyd is a crime victim.”

Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, then disagreed with these statements from the Assistant Attorney General. Plunkett said Kueng was a three-day rookie after he completed his training while trusting his leadership, including now-retired Chief Medaria Arradondo and Inspector Katie Blackwell. However, “the chief rides off into the sunset with a handsome pension. Mrs. Blackwell received a promotion to inspector and Mr. Kueng, the rookie, sits in prison one year for every day he served the city.”

Plunkett concluded, “It is clear that leadership learned nothing and forgot nothing. They failed Mr. Kueng. They failed Mr. Floyd and they failed the community. Protesters have called for justice. Unfortunately, justice has become nothing more than mean-spirited revenge … I’m calling for progress. That way Mr. Floyd’s life and Mr. Kueng’s punishment will not be in vain.”


[1] Kueng and State Agree on Guilty Plea while Thao Agrees to Judge Cahill’s Deciding His Case on Existing Record, (Oct. 24, 2022).

[2]  Former Minneapolis officer J. Alexander Kueng sentenced in George Floyd killing, StarTribune (Dec. 9, 2022);  Bailey, Ex-Minneapolis officer sentenced on state charges in Floyd’s death, Wash. Post (Dec. 9, 2022); Assoc. Press, Former police officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s back sentenced to prison, Guardian (Dec. 9, 2022).

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.


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

Preparations for State Criminal Trial of Kueng and Thao Over Killing of George Floyd     

On October 13, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill entered an Amended Trial Management Order for the upcoming trial of J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, former Minneapolis police officers, who face charges of aiding and abetting two crimes: (a) second-degree murder and (b) manslaughter  of George Floyd.[1]

Latest Trial Management Order

This Order provided great details on the following:

  • Trial Courtroom (No. 1856), the largest trial courtroom with maximal flexibility, in the Hennepin County Government Center (para. 1);
  • the Media Overflow Courtroom (No. C-2350) (para. 2);
  • the General Public Overflow Courtroom (No. 1659) (para. 3);
  • Court Administration discretion to combine overflow (para. 4);
  • Parties’ Work Rooms (para. 5);
  • Jury Anonymity (para. 6);
  • Clothing/Logos (para. 7), which bans all persons in attendance from “wearing any mask or article of clothing that contains any outwardly-visible image, logo, or letters, or is otherwise dressed in a coordinated fashion with other attending observers in any manner which . . . is designed to send a message to the jury hearing this trial;”
  • “All earlier administrative and trial management and decorum orders addressing other trial logistics and management-related matters . . . remain in effect, except as and only to the extent expressly superseded by this Order (para. 8); and
  • “All other rules of decorum found in Minn. Gen. R. Prac.2 will be followed unless specifically modified by this order or other orders of the presiding judge. The HCSO and court staff are authorized to enforce the rules of decorum” (Para. 9).

The trial is scheduled to start on October 24 with jury selection followed by opening statements on November 7. The trial testimony and closing arguments are expected to end by December 16th, when the jury is anticipated to commence its deliberations.

Pretrial Motions

Judge Cahill, however, has not yet released his rulings on the defendants’ 170 pretrial motions that were argued before the court on October 6 and 7.[2]


[1] Amended Trial Management Order, State v. Thao & Kueng, (Oct. 13, 2022).

[2] Hyatt, Litany of motions heard ahead of ex-MPD officers’ trial this month for George Floyd’s killing, StarTribune (Oct. 7, 2022); Forliti, State, cops seek to bar evidence in trial over Floyd killing, AP News (Oct. 5, 2022)..