The black officer charged in the death of George Floyd had joined the force to protect other young black men from police abuse, arguing more cops like himself could change the Minneapolis force.
Now J. Alexander Kueng is being denounced by members of his own family.
Kueng’s mission to change the reputation of the department was rooted in seeing friends — even a sister, Taylor Kueng — treated badly by law enforcement officers, the New York Times reported.
Still, Kueng defended authorities, including the sheriff’s deputies who arrested his sibling, telling his friends and relatives the best way to fix the department was from within, not by public demonstrations.
“Don’t you think that that needs to be done from the inside?’” Joni Kueng, who is white, recalled her son saying years ago after he watched protesters block a highway. “That’s part of the reason why he wanted to become a police officer — and a black police officer on top of it — is to bridge that gap in the community, change the narrative between the officers and the black community.”
Besides Kueng, three other officers have been fired and charged in Floyd’s death. At 26, he is the youngest and had the least experience — only three days on the job.
Taylor, along with sister Radiance, called for the officers to be arrested, including their brother. Radiance has pledged to change her last name.
“I don’t care if it was his third day at work or not,” she said. “He knows right from wrong.”
Joni Kueng tried to talk her son out of joining the police. But he couldn’t be persuaded, friend Darrow Jones told the Times.
Kueng believed his background would let him bridge the gap between white and black worlds, so he signed up as a police cadet.
A few months into his training, Taylor had a confrontation with sheriff’s deputies. She and a friend saw deputies questioning two men about drinking in public. They intervened. Taylor Kueng recorded the deputies on her cellphone.
Kueng reminded his sister he wasn’t joining the sheriff’s department and criticized the deputies’ behavior, his mother recalled.
On May 22, Kueng officially became one of about 80 black officers on a police force of almost 900. Floyd died May 25.
The day after, Jones learned Kueng was one of the officers and called him. They both cried.
“I’m feeling a lot of sadness and a lot of disappointment,” Jones said. “But though I feel sad about what’s occurred, he still has my unwavering support. Because we grew up together, and I love him.”
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