AP

Ruling may mean less time for 2 who violated Floyd’s rights

Jul 22, 2022, 2:20 PM | Updated: Jul 23, 2022, 12:48 pm

FILE - This photo provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on June 3, 2020, shows former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson handed J. Alexander Kueng and Thao a victory when he ruled that the complex formulas for calculating their sentences will use the crime of involuntary manslaughter, rather than murder, as a starting point. Magnuson will sentence the men in back-to-back hearings Wednesday, July 27, 2022, after they were convicted of violating George Floyd's civil rights when Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for 9 1/2 minutes as the 46-year-old Black man was handcuffed and facedown on the street on May 25, 2020. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

(Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge on Friday sided with two former Minneapolis police officers who were convicted of violating George Floyd’s civil rights, ruling that the guidelines for their sentences will be calculated in a way that could mean substantially less prison time for them.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson handed J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao a victory when he ruled that the complex formulas for calculating their sentences will use the crime of involuntary manslaughter, rather than murder, as a starting point. Magnuson will sentence the men in back-to-back hearings Wednesday.

Kueng, Thao and their colleague, Thomas Lane, were convicted in February of violating Floyd’s rights by depriving him of medical care as the 46-year-old Black man was pinned under then-Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee for 9 ½ minutes while Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.

Kueng and Thao were also convicted of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin in the killing, which was recorded on video by a bystander and sparked worldwide protests as part of a reckoning over racial injustice. While Chauvin pinned down Floyd’s neck, Kueng held Floyd’s back, Lane held his feet and Thao kept bystanders back.

Chauvin, who pleaded guilty to one count of violating Floyd’s rights, got a federal sentence of 21 years. Lane was sentenced Thursday to 2 ½.

Prosecutors have requested that Magnuson sentence Keung and Thao to less time than Chauvin, but “substantially” more than Lane. They have not made specific recommendations. Thao’s attorney is asking his client be sentenced to two years in prison, while Kueng’s attorney has filed his request under seal.

A hearing was held Friday to address the complex formulas used to calculate a person’s “offense level,” which then is used to set a guideline range for sentencing that federal judges are not bound to follow but typically do.

All four former officers were convicted of federal civil rights violations, which carry their own offense level, but their crimes are cross-referenced with another offense — in this case murder or involuntary manslaughter — which creates the baseline for calculating a guideline sentence. Different elements are then added or subtracted to come up with a final sentencing range.

Over prosecutors’ objections, Magnuson ruled that involuntary manslaughter should be used as a starting point for Kueng and Thao.

“The facts of this case do not amount to second-degree murder under federal law,” Magnuson wrote. “Defendants Kueng and Thao each made a tragic misdiagnosis in their assessment of Mr. Floyd.” He added that both men genuinely thought Floyd was suffering from a drug overdose and “excited delirium” — a disputed condition in which someone is said to have extraordinary strength.

The result of Magnuson’s ruling means that the starting point for calculating the men’s sentence will be much lower — with a range starting as low as 2 1/4 years in prison, compared with a range starting at 19 1/2 years if the offense were to be cross-referenced with murder, according to a table of U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines. But the calculations don’t stop there.

Magnuson also ruled that this baseline level should be increased because the officers acted under “color of law,” bringing the guideline range to somewhere between 4 1/4 years to 5 1/4 years in prison. Still, that also might not be the final landing point, as Magnuson is expected to rule on other factors that could impact the formula next week.

Kueng, who is Black, and Thao, who is Hmong American, remain free on bond pending their sentencing. They are also charged with state counts of aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They have turned down plea deals in that case and are scheduled to stand trial on those charges on Oct. 24.

Lane, who is white, pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and is still awaiting sentencing in that case. He was allowed to remain free on bond after his federal sentencing, but must report to a yet-to-be-determined federal prison in October.

Chauvin, who is white, was also convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in state court and is serving a 22 1/2-year state sentence. His federal and state sentences are being served simultaneously. Online records show he’s still at the state’s maximum security prison, but he’s expected to be moved into federal custody.

___

Find AP’s full coverage of the killing of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

Associated Press

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix.

16 hours ago

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

2 days ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

7 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

8 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

10 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Ruling may mean less time for 2 who violated Floyd’s rights