One of two former police officers scheduled to go on trial this week on charges stemming from the death of George Floyd pleaded guilty as part of an agreement with prosecutors, ABC News reports. J. Alexander Kueng, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of aiding and abetting in manslaughter after prosecutors and Kueng's defense attorney agreed to recommend a sentence of 42 months in prison. His second charge of aiding and abetting in second-degree unintentional murder will be dismissed. The plea was announced just as a joint state trial for Kueng and Tou Thao, 34, was to begin with jury selection. The former officers reported to separate prisons this month to begin federal sentences. Thao is proceeding to trial but does not want a jury to render a verdict. He wants Judge Peter Cahill to decide his fate based on evidence stipulated by his attorney and the prosecution.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Cahill will only decide a verdict for Thao on the charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. The state has agreed to dismiss the charge of aiding in second-degree murder if Thao is convicted on the manslaughter charge. Cahill ordered the agreed-upon evidence for him to review be submitted Nov. 17. A third defendant, Thomas Lane, 39, pleaded guilty in May to state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. "J. Alexander Kueng is now the second officer involved in Floyd’s death to accept responsibility through a guilty plea. That acknowledgment hopefully can bring comfort to Floyd’s family and bring our communities closer to a new era of accountability and justice," Ellison said. Kueng, Thao and Lane were convicted in February by a federal jury of violating George Floyd's civil rights by failing to intervene or provide medical aid as their senior officer, Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck. Kueng was sentenced to three years in federal prison; Thao was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.