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, dwkcommentaries.com (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).

Federal Criminal Trial for Killing George Floyd: Defendant Thomas Lane Testimony

On February 22, 2022, Defendant Thomas Lane took the witness stand to provide his testimony in defense of the charges that he illegally deprived George Floyd of his constitutional rights. The following is a summary of that testimony based on the cited newspaper articles. [1]

Lane’s Personal Background

Lane began by his life and background. He grew up in Arden Hills, Minnesota and attended Mounds View High School and earned an associate’s degree from Century College before attending the University of Minnesota and deciding to pursue a career in law enforcement.

He will be turning 39 in a couple of weeks. His wife and he are expecting their first child soon.

Lane’s Minneapolis Police Department Background

In February 2019 he was accepted by the MPD and completed his training in December of that year. The training taught them that in cases of excited delirium officers were to keep the person from “thrashing, hold them in place” until paramedics arrive to inject ketamine. Under cross examination, he admitted that they were trained if someone did not have a pulse to start CPR within 5 to 10 seconds with Lane’s qualifier “if the situation allows.”

During the first five months of 2020 he had been on about 120 calls as a probationary officer.

                              Lane’s Encounter with George Floyd

On May 25, 2020, Lane on his fourth shift as a full-fledged officer and fellow rookie officer, J. Alexander Kueng, were the first officers answering a call of alleged forgery in progress at Cup Foods in south Minneapolis.

After being told by someone at Cup that the suspect was outside in a car across the street, Lane went there and gave commands to the suspect (Floyd) and after he got out of the car, Lane handcuffed him. Soon thereafter Lane had Floyd sit on a sidewalk with his back against a wall and he did not try to get up or escape.

Later when Chauvin arrived and pinned Floyd on the ground with his knee, Lane held down Floyd’s legs and Kueng restrained his midsection. After about four minutes, Lane noticed that Floyd had stopped resisting and Lane said, “Should we roll him on his side?” But Chauvin said, “Nope, we’re good like this.” 

Later Lane said he didn’t always have a clear view of what Chauvin was doing, but that his knee “appeared to be just kind of holding [him] at the base of the neck and shoulder.” When he could not see Floyd’s face, Lane asked again to roll him over to “better  asses” his condition. Chauvin did not respond and instead asked if Lane and Kueng were OK.

Lane felt reassured when an ambulance arrived and a paramedic checked Floyd’s pulse while  retrieving a stretcher without urgency, leading Lane to believe that “Floyd’s all right.” 

Lane choked up and became teary as he described why he went in the ambulance to help the paramedics. “Just based on when Mr. Floyd was turned over, he didn’t look good, and I just felt like , the situation, he might need a hand.”

In the ambulance, Lane realized Floyd had gone into cardiac arrest. 

During cross examination, Lane agreed that “fear of negative repercussions , fear of angering a field training officer [like Chauvin] is not an exception to the duty to render aid.”


[1] Olson & Mannix, After Lane takes stand, testimony concludes in the trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with abusing George Floyd’s civil rights, StarTribune (Feb. 21, 2022); Arango, Former Officers Finish Defense in Trial   Over George Floyd’s Death, N.Y. Times (Feb. 21, 2022); Bailey, Defense rests after testimony from former Minneapolis officer who said he tried to get Chauvin to reposition Floyd, Wash. Post (Feb. 21, 2022).