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Former Mpls police officers reject plea deal, appeal federal convictions

In less than a week, former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng both announced they would appeal their federal convictions and rejected a plea deal in their state criminal case.

On Aug 10 the officers announced they would contest the Federal Justice Department’s convictions, which resulted in sentencing Thao and Kueng to 42 and 36 months in prison, respectively, for depriving George Floyd of his constitutional rights.

On Aug 15, Thao and Kueng rejected the plea offers extended to them by Judge Peter Cahill in their Minnesota criminal case. They are each charged with two counts of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter, both in the second degree. Accepting the deal would have meant pleading guilty to the lesser of the two charges and serving three years in prison, concurrent with their federal sentences. Accepting the plea would have avoided a trial and additional prison time.

Thao told the judge that "It would be a lie and a sin for me to accept a plea deal."

Fellow ex-officer Thomas Lane agreed to the same plea deal. He’s scheduled to

be with Derek Chauvin the night he murdered George Floyd. His state sentencing is scheduled for Sept 21. Meanwhile, he has been ordered to report to the Federal Correctional Institution, Englewood in Colorado on August 30 to begin serving out his federal sentence.

Thao, Keung, and Lane were all present and on duty the night Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in May 2020. As Chauvin pinned Floyd’s neck under his knee, Kueng pinned Floyd’s back, and Lane held Floyd’s legs. Thao held back witnesses who sought to provide assistance. Lane twice asked whether Floyd should be turned on his side.

In the state trial of Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng, Judge Cahill has scheduled pre-trial motions for Oct 6 and 7, the start of the trial for Oct 24, and opening statements for Nov 7.

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