Ex-Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have rejected a plea deal offered on Monday by state prosecutors, CNN reports. The deal would have seen Kueng and Thao serve three years each for their role in the murder of George Floyd back in 2020. A trial date is set to begin on October 24. Based on Minnesota sentencing guidelines, they face up to 16 years in prison if found guilty on both counts.
“It would be lying for me to accept any plea offer,” Thou said in court on Monday.
Assistant Attorney General Matt Frank pointed out in the hearing that the state’s sentencing guidelines recommend sentences of 12 1/2 years on murder and four years on manslaughter counts. As the Star Tribute notes, prosecutors are asking Judge Peter Cahill for more time for aggravating factors.
Kueng and Thao await federal sentencing after being found guilty of depriving Floyd of his civil rights. Both were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter for their roles in the fatal restraint of Floyd on a Minneapolis street.
“It’s a standard best practice to make a record in court when the State offers a plea agreement, to ensure the defendant’s decision is freely and knowingly made,” Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement afterward. “The defendants have a right to decline the offer and proceed to trial. The State is ready for trial.”
During the arrest, Kueng held down Floyd’s torso, and Thao stood nearby and kept back a crowd of upset bystanders. They were offered the same plea deal as Thomas Lane, who pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in May. As a result of Lane agreeing to the plea, the charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder was dismissed. Lane is still expected to serve two years of the three-year sentence.