MINNEAPOLIS – A federal judge on Friday sided with two former Minneapolis police officers found guilty of civil rights violations by George Floyd, ruling that the guidelines for their sentences will be calculated in a way that is fair. can significantly reduce their jail time.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson awarded the victory to J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao when he ruled that the complex formulas for calculating their sentences would use involuntary manslaughter, rather than murder, as a starting point. Magnuson will sentence the men in opposite hearings on Wednesday.
Kueng, Thao and their colleague, Thomas Lane, were convicted in February of violating Floyd’s rights by stripping him of medical care when the 46-year-old black man was pinned below his knee. Officer Derek Chauvin was there for 9 and a half minutes while Floyd kept saying he couldn’t breathe.
Kueng and Thao were also found guilty of not interfering with Chauvin’s murder, which was captured on video by an outsider and sparked worldwide protests as part of taking account of racial injustice. ethnicity. While Chauvin held Floyd’s neck down, Kueng held Floyd’s back, Lane held his feet and Thao held the people around.
Chauvin, who pleaded guilty to violating Floyd’s rights, received a federal sentence of 21 years. Lane was sentenced Thursday at 2:30pm.
Prosecutors have asked Magnuson to sentence Keung and Thao less time than Chauvin, but “essentially” more than Lane. They did not make specific recommendations. Thao’s lawyer is asking for his client to be sentenced to two years in prison, while Kueng’s lawyer has stamped his request.
A hearing was held on Friday to tackle the complex formulas used to calculate a person’s “criminal level,” which were then used to establish the scope of guidelines for sentencing. judgments that federal judges are not bound to follow but often do.
All four former officers were found guilty of federal civil rights violations, each with their own set of crimes, but their crimes were cross-referenced with other crimes – in this case murder or involuntary manslaughter. – create the basis for calculating the guideline sentence. Various factors are then added or subtracted to give the final sentencing range.
In the face of objections from prosecutors, Magnuson ruled that involuntary manslaughter should be used as a starting point for Kueng and Thao.
“The facts of this case are not second-degree murder under federal law,” Magnuson wrote. “Defendants Kueng and Thao each made an unfortunate misdiagnosis in their assessment of Mr. Floyd.” He added that both of them really thought Floyd was suffering from a drug overdose and “euphoric delirium” – a controversial condition in which a person is said to have extraordinary powers.
The results of Magnuson’s ruling mean that the starting point for calculating the man’s sentence will be much lower – with a range starting at 2 1/4 years in prison, compared with a starting point of 19 and a half years if Mr. guilty. cross-referenced with murder, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines. But the calculations don’t stop there.
Magnuson also ruled that this baseline should be increased because officers were acting in “the color of the law”, bringing the guideline range to somewhere between 4 1/4 years to 5 1/ 4 years in prison. However, that may not be the final landing point either, as Magnuson is expected to give a verdict on other factors that could affect the formula next week.
Kueng, who is black, and Thao, who is of Hmong descent, remain free to bind pending sentencing. They were also charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They have denied plea agreements in that case and are scheduled to appear in court on those charges on October 24.
Lane, who is white, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and is still awaiting sentencing in that case. He was allowed to continue on bond freedom after his federal sentencing, but must report to an unspecified federal prison in October.
Chauvin, who is white, was also found guilty 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 convictions are being served concurrently. Online records show he is still at the state’s maximum security prison, but he is expected to be transferred to federal custody.