On Monday (Aug. 15), the two Minneapolis police officers who were charged in George Floyd’s killing rejected plea deals. Under the agreement, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng would have served three-year sentences. But now that they aren’t accepting the offer, their trial begins in October.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill gave a limited window for the defendants to accept a plea deal ahead of trial. Monday’s hearing served as the two ex-officers’ formal rejection. Thao and Kueng were charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. If the offer was accepted, the aiding and abetting charges would’ve been dropped, and the pair would have been able to serve their federal and state sentences simultaneously. Thou said, “It would be lying for me to accept any plea offer.”
The former officers were working with Derek Chauvin when he kneeled on Floyd’s neck for at least nine minutes as the 46-year-old said he couldn’t breathe. Thao, Kueng, and Thomas Lane were convicted in federal court in February of violating Floyd’s civil rights. Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement, “It’s a standard best practice to make a record in court when the State offers a plea agreement, in order to ensure the defendant’s decision is freely and knowingly made. The defendants have a right to decline the offer and proceed to trial. The state is ready for trial.”
Lane avoided a state trial by pleading guilty in May to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in a deal that calls for a three-year sentence. His sentencing is Sept. 21. Meanwhile, Chauvin was sentenced to 21 years on the federal civil rights charge. He is currently housed in Oak Park Heights pending his transfer to federal prison. The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 24, with opening statements Nov. 7.
RIP George Floyd.