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Former Minneapolis police Officer J. Alexander Kueng was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to three years in prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights during the May 2020 killing.

Kueng’s co-defendant Tou Thao was scheduled to be sentenced later Wednesday morning.

Kueng and Thao were convicted in February of two counts of violating Floyd’s civil rights. The jury found they deprived the 46-year-old Black man of medical care and failed to stop Derek Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes. Kueng, who is Black, was sentenced to three years on each count, to be served concurrently.

The lower sentence for Kueng raises questions about whether he would consider a plea deal or risk a state court trial on Oct. 24, when he and Thao face counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Kueng held Floyd’s back, former Officer Thomas Lane held his feet and Thao kept back bystanders, some of whom recorded video that led to worldwide protests.

The federal government brought the civil rights charges against all four officers in May 2021, a month after Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter charges in state court. They were seen as an affirmation of the Justice Department’s priorities to address racial inequities in policing, a promise made by President Joe Biden before his election. And they came just a week after federal prosecutors brought hate crimes charges in the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and announced two sweeping probes into policing in two states.

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