Ex-officer J Alexander Kueng to plead 'not guilty' to George Floyd's murder and claim he acted in self-defense

Kueng is also set to use justifiable force, and authorized use of force as defenses in his defense argument


                            Ex-officer J Alexander Kueng to plead 'not guilty' to George Floyd's murder and claim he acted in self-defense
(Hennepin County Sheriff's Office)

One of the Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd, J Alexander Kueng, will reportedly not plead guilty in the case and will instead claim that he acted in self-defense. Kueng, who has been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter, is also set to use justifiable force, and authorized use of force as defenses in his defense argument.

Kueng, 26, and the three other former cops appeared in court on Monday, June 29, nearly a month after the death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man. The hearing on Monday, which lasted for an hour, was the first time all the four defendants in the case — Keung, Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — appeared in court on the same day. However, each made their appearances separately. None of the former officers have entered pleas. 

Four Minneapolis police officers allegedly involved in Floyd's death were fired on May 26 after a video of the incident went viral on social media. The footage showed Floyd pleading with officers as one of them, Chauvin, knelt on his neck while the 46-year-old told them to let him stand because he could not breathe. The clip showed Floyd pleading with the officer to allow him to breathe and a few minutes later he became unconscious. Floyd's death has sparked massive protests and unrest in Minneapolis and across the country. Chauvin, within days, was arrested and charged with murder. The arrest of other officers involved followed suit.

A memorial site where George Floyd died on May 25 (Getty Images)

No cameras were allowed during the court hearing. However, Keung's lawyer, Thomas Plunkett, filed a motion asking for cameras to be permitted inside the courtroom during the hearings. "Cameras are essential so that the public can see the impact of the state's statements on the proceedings and to ensure confidence in the results," the motion stated. "This case is a very important case for the State of Minnesota and the rest of the country. The impact of this case has been felt worldwide."

Prosecutors in the case, however, opposed the use of cameras inside during court preconviction. Attorney General Keith Ellison, in a statement, said: "I believe cameras in the courtroom will create more problems than it will solve." Ellison added that cameras "could alter the way lawyers present evidence" and that they "may be intimidating to witnesses and impair their ability and willingness to testify."

The presiding judge, Peter Cahill, has scheduled the next hearing for September 11 and trials are set to begin next year on March 8, 2021. Of the four officers two, Kueng and Lane, have posted $750,000 bail and are out of prison. All four officers in the case face a sentence of up to 50 years in prison. 

The unconditional bail for Chauvin was raised to $1.25 million on June 8 as he made his first court appearance on Monday, June 29, through a video feed, handcuffed, wearing a blue mask and dressed in an orange jumpsuit. The 44-year-old former officer faces charged of second-degree murder without intent, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

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