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Two former police officers convicted on federal charges in the death of George Floyd were both sentenced Wednesday to prison terms.
According to ABC News, former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson in back-to-back hearings.
Magnuson, who noted that Kueng was a rookie cop at the time of Floyd’s death, sentenced him to serve three years in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, according to St. Paul ABC affiliate KSTP.
In a separate hearing, Magnuson sentenced Thao, a nine-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department at the time of Floyd’s death, to 3 1/2 years in prison, also followed by two years of supervised release, KSTP reported.
Biden signs executive order as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act collects dust
Montgomery asked Magnuson to give both Kueng and Thao the maximum sentence. “All of these men deserve to serve longer sentences,” Montgomery said, according to KSTP. “The system these officers operated in is flawed, but again, where is their humanity?”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda Sertich stated, “All he had to do per MPD policy was attempt to intervene … but he didn’t say a word. Not one word,” Sertich said, according to KSTP.
Kueng declined to make a statement in court before he was sentenced.
Both Kueng, 28, and Thao, 35, were convicted by a federal jury in February along with their former police colleague Thomas Lane, 39, who received a sentence last week of 2 1/2 years in prison for violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Federal prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 6 1/2 years for Lane, which according to federal sentencing guidelines, was the maximum.
Two years later, has anything really changed in America?
Historically, police departments across America have been documented time and again continuously engaged in barbaric, erratic, and racially-motivated attacks against Black people. With no federal protection against many of the ill’s facing Black America from a trigger-happy police force, President Biden’s offered solutions will continue to leave us as literal targets for police.
According to the ACLU, Biden’s May executive order on police reform contains provisions that improve investigations into deaths in police custody; strengthen the effectiveness of pattern-of-practice investigations; ban chokeholds and carotid restraints except in certain circumstances where use of deadly force is authorized; enhance recruitment, training, and retention practices; ensure the use of body-worn cameras by federal law enforcement officers; and advance key criminal justice reform and reentry measures.
While Biden’s executive order also includes positive measures such as improving data collections, revising use-of-force standards, limiting no-knocks entries and increasing civilian community responder models, the root of the problem is not being addressed.
When American policemen, Klansmen and white mobs burned cities, murdered and lynched Black folks while destroying families and communities, it wasn’t because they needed to improve their data collecting skills. They hated Black people for who we were without rhyme or reason and many of their descendants continue to harbor those same racist resentments. Until President Biden and Congress addresses the racism that exists in many of America’s police departments, George Floyd will remain another painful footnote in the already-too-long history of police misconduct against Black folks.
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