J. Alexander Kueng pleads guilty to 2nd-degree manslaughter in death of George Floyd

Co-defendant Tou Thao agrees to bench trial on 2nd-degree manslaughter on stipulated evidence; waives right to jury trial, right to present and confront witnesses, and testify in in his own defense; court to reach verdict in Thao’s case

October 24, 2022 (SAINT PAUL) — Today, former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Kueng entered a plea of guilty to the charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In exchange for Kueng’s guilty plea, the State of Minnesota has agreed to drop the charge of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder against Kueng and its request for an upward departure from sentencing guidelines. The State and Kueng jointly recommended to the court a sentence of 42 months, to be served in a federal prison concurrently with Kueng’s federal sentence. Sentencing will be set for a later date. 

In addition, former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao today waived his right to a jury trial and joined the State in asking the court for a bench trial on the charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter on stipulated evidence, thereby waiving his right to present and confront witnesses in person and testify in his own defense in person. This means the court, not a jury, will reach a verdict on the evidence that the State and Thao will agree upon and submit jointly for the court’s consideration. The state will hold back the charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder against Thao until the resolution of the bench trial. If the court finds Thao guilty of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, the State will agree to dismiss the charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and withdraw its request for an upward departure from sentencing guidelines. 

The jury trial of Kueng and Thao on charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death was set to begin today in Hennepin County District Court. 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued the following statement: 

Today, as always, my thoughts are with the victims: George Floyd and his family. Floyd should still be with us. I think of him and his family every day. 

J. Alexander Kueng is now the second officer involved in Floyd’s death to accept responsibility through a guilty plea. That acknowledgement hopefully can bring comfort to Floyd’s family and bring our communities closer to a new era of accountability and justice. 

We look forward to a swift resolution of Tou Thao’s stipulated bench trial. 

I want to thank everyone who has worked so selflessly on this historic case for more than two years. This includes the staff of my office, the other attorneys who gave so generously of their time, and the investigators and staff of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. I offer special thanks to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman for his close partnership and the diligence and cooperation of his attorneys and staff. I also want to thank the witnesses who were prepared to testify at trial.  

Finally, I want to thank the Floyd family for their graciousness and generosity of spirit. They are a shining example of people who have turned a personal tragedy of immense proportions into a movement for justice for all that is far bigger than themselves. 

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman released the following statement:  

I concur with the statements of Attorney General Ellison. It is great to bring these matters to a just conclusion. This is true for all concerned parties, including Mr. Floyd’s family, the potential witnesses, and the community, as well as for public safety. 

I must congratulate Attorney General Ellison and his staff for their leadership on this effort. While this was a joint endeavor between our offices, Keith displayed remarkable leadership and a true commitment to bringing justice in this case. I thank him for our partnership. 

Timeline of prosecution of murder of George Floyd