Federal prosecutors will appeal a judge's sentences imposed on former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao for their role in violating George Floyd's civil rights.
Prosecutors on Wednesday filed notices that they will appeal the three- and 3½-year prison sentences that Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson gave Kueng and Thao, respectively, in July.
In a statement, the Justice Department said that the "government is complying with a legal requirement to file a notice of appeal by a certain date in order to preserve the right to appeal later."
Attorneys for Kueng and Thao filed their own notices of appeal to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month.
Kueng, Thao and Thomas Lane were convicted by a federal jury in February and Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty in the case in December. Lane received 2½ years in prison and Chauvin was given about 20 years. Magnuson sentenced all four former officers involved in Floyd's murder to sentences below what federal prosecutors called for. Prosecutors have not stated intentions to appeal the sentences given to Chauvin or Lane, however.
Without arguing for a specific sentence, the government wanted Magnuson to sentence Kueng and Thao below the term that Chauvin received but "significantly higher" than the five to six years prosecutors argued that Lane should have received.
In sentencing the two men, Magnuson cited a lower degree of culpability while casting a positive light on their character.
Kueng helped restrain Floyd as Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during the deadly encounter. Thao meanwhile stood by and held back a group of bystanders who urged officers to give Floyd medical attention as he lost consciousness.
Last month, Kueng and Thao formally rejected a plea offer in the state's murder prosecution. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank offered to drop charges against the two for aiding and abetting second-degree murder if they pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter. State prosecutors planned to recommend a three-year prison sentence to run concurrently with the men's federal sentences.
Instead, Kueng and Thao will now stand trial in Hennepin County starting Oct. 24.