J. Alexander Kueng, one of the four Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s killing, is now facing charges of aiding and abetting 2nd-degree murder — an offense punishable by 40 years in prison.
UPDATE 6/5 3:13pm EST: Two days after Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, the Minneapolis has banned the use of chokeholds by police. The agreement, which comes in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, means that any officer is required to immediately report the use of neck restraint or chokehold to their commander or their commander’s superiors.
If an officer sees a colleague try to chokehold anyone, they must intervene verbally, or physically if necessary. Failure to do so means they could face punishment as severe as the officer committing the prohibited action, according to the Associated Press. Additionally, the police chief or a deputy chief must authorize any use of chemical agents, rubber bullets, flash-bangs, batons, and marking rounds.
UPDATE 6/4 3:20pm EST: A judge set bail at $1,000,000 apiece for Kueng along with Thomas Lane and Tou Thou on Thursday, June 4, while they made their first appearance in court. Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with 2nd degree murder in the death of George Floyd, has his set at $500,000.
Former Minneapolis Police Department officer J. Alexander Kueng was charged on June 3 with “aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter” over his involvement in the May 25 death of George Floyd. This comes days after Derek Chauvin, one of the other three MPD officers fired over George’s killing, was charged with third-degree murder and one count of manslaughter. Those counts were elevated to second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree murder are punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Manslaughter and aiding and abetting manslaughter are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
“We’re here today because George Floyd is not here. He should be here. He should be alive but he’s not,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. “Today I filed an amended complaint that charges former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with murder in the second degree for the death of George Floyd. I believe the evidence available to us now supports the stronger charge of second-degree murder.”
“Second, today arrest warrants were issued for former Minneapolis police officers J. A. King, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao,” continued Ellison. “Finally, I’d like to announce that today Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman and I have filed a complaint that charges police officer King, Lane, and Thao with aiding and abetting murder in the second degree, a felony offense. I strongly believe that these developments are in the interests of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, our community and our state.”
In the now viral-video of George’s death, Chauvin is the officer pinning George to the ground with his knee on the back of the black man’s neck. Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng allegedly held George’s legs and back, respectively, while Tou Thao instructed onlookers to “get back on the sidewalk. George Floyd’s death sparked a massive amount of outrage, which was followed by numerous protests against systemic racial oppression and police brutality. Though Derek Chauvin was indicted over Floyd’s death, millions demanded that the other three face charges. Whether or not these officers will face jail time over this incident remains to be seen. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about J. Alexander Kueng.
1. He was one of the two officers who first confronted George Floyd. It was Officers Lane and Kueng who approached George Floyd after someone at the Cup Foods market reported a man buying merchandise with a counterfeit $20 bill, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Hennepin County Attorney. According to the document, obtained by HollywoodLife, the cops approached George’s car, with Lane talking with George while Kueng spoke with front seat passenger. Officer Lane ordered George out of the vehicle, put his hands on him, and handcuffed him. Officers Chauvin and Thao arrived soon afterward. The four attempted to get Floyd into a cop car, while George struggled and said he was claustrophobic.
Chauvin ultimately pinned George to the ground, a knee pressed into his neck. Chauvin kept the knee there for almost nine minutes. Around 8:24 pm, George stopped moving. J. Alexander Kueng checked for a pulse as an ambulance arrived. George Floyd was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
2. The officer had only received his law enforcement license last summer. Like Officer Lane, J. Alexander Kueng was a relative rookie to the MPD. He attained his law enforcement license last August, the same time that Lane received his license.
3. He had no previous complaints against him. Unlike officer Tou Thao, who was the subject of a 2017 lawsuit over an alleged police brutality incident in 2014 (and who also had six police conduct complaints against him at the time of his arrest), J. Alexander Kueng had no complaints against his record before his firing.
4. His family isn’t talking. Though a relative of Officer Lane defended him to the Star Tribune (“He doesn’t have a bad bone in his body”), a relative of Kueng wasn’t in the mood to chat. “There’s no way to comment,” a local relative said the publication, “so don’t start.”
5. He may be headed for a long time behind bars. When Derek Chauvin was first charged with third-degree murder, Certified Criminal Trial Specialist, Bruce Rivers told HollywoodLife that though the maximum sentence is 25 years, “first-time offenders usually don’t get the statutory maximum. The legal expert told HollywoodLife that he thought Derek would “likely get somewhere along the guidelines which are 128 to 180 months with the mid-range of 150 months.”