The incident sparked the most significant protest movement in the history of the United States, demanding to revamp the policing system. The federal jury found three former Minneapolis police officers guilty of violating Floyd’s civil rights. On August 15th, 2022, two officers in George Floyd’s killing rejected the plea deal while one pleaded guilty.
Let’s explore the details of the plea bargain and what it means.
During the Federal Courthouse Wednesday, July 2022 hearing, the two former Minneapolis police officers, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, accomplices to the man who violated Floyd’s civil rights, faced second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.
In February 2022, the federal court sentenced Thao to 3.5 years and Kueng to 3 years in prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights. They did not intervene to stop another police officer, Chauvin, from making an unreasonable seizure.
The plea negotiations began in May 2022 and continued into June, reducing the charges levied against the two former Minneapolis police officers, aiding and abetting murder, by the federal court. Pleading guilty would also see the time for the two former Minneapolis police officers run concurrently with the federal sentences.
During the hearing, Thomas Plunkett, Kueng’s attorney, stated that Attorney General Keith Ellison offered them a deal to see Kueng in prison for only 2 years. However, the ex-officer rejected the offer at the time.
Robert Paule, Thao’s attorney, negotiated a 2-year jail sentence on behalf of Thao, which the state rejected. However, Assistant Attorney General Matt Frank disagreed, stating that he does not remember any such discussion.
The state provided the two ex-officers, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, the opportunity to accept a plea deal that would reduce their jail sentence to 3 years. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill set a short window for the former officers to take the plea deal ahead of a state trial. However, on Monday, August 15th, 2022, the two Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder rejected plea deals.
Thomas Lane, a former Minneapolis police officer responsible for holding Floyd’s legs and violating George Floyd’s civil rights, pleaded guilty in May 2022 and received 2.5 years in a low-security federal prison camp in Colorado.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who had his knee on George’s neck, faced a 22-year sentence on a federal civil rights charge. He is currently serving his time at the state’s maximum security prison at Oak Park Heights, pending his transfer to federal prison.
It is important to note that the three Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting in the murder of George Floyd are not necessary a “violent” offense. Since these three officers did not also have a prior record, they received minor sentences at low-security prisons. However, for the two officers rejecting the deal, they now run the risk of greater state sentences if they’re convicted.
Thao and Kueng, the two of the three officers charged in George Floyd’s murder, are appealing federal convictions and await a trial that will commence in October 2022.
Rejecting the plea deals mean that the case would proceed to trials. Tou Thao, a Hmong American, stated his reason for not accepting the plea bargain, saying he would be lying if he did.
The United States’ justice system allows everyone to prove their innocence in court, and Thao believes that he is not guilty of the charges levied against him, so he wants to present his point of view at the trials.
Rejecting the plea bargain also means that the two officers are risking state sentences. If convicted in a trial, the state sentences could be much longer than the federal sentences the two received. Frank says the recommended sentences for murder and manslaughter count are 12.5 and 4 years, respectively. Defendants in Minnesota, upon good behavior, typically serve two-thirds of their sentence in prison while the remaining are on parole.
However, the state case is about what the officers charged in George Floyd’s murder did, while the federal case is about what they didn’t do. It would be challenging for the prosecutors to prove that the two officers that rejected plea deals helped Chauvin commit murder.
The George Floyd incident sparked the need for overhauling the policing system in the country. Over the years, there have been many cases of police officers violating the civil rights of people and inmates, resulting in their deaths. Our attorneys are ready to protect victims’ rights and fight for their freedom.
If you or someone you love is a civil rights violation victim, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation with our California civil rights violation attorneys.