By pleading guilty, Thomas Lane avoided the more serious charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
A former United States police officer has pleaded guilty to one state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the murder of George Floyd, a black man who died in 2020 when a fellow police officer knelt on his neck.
As part of the plea deal announced Wednesday, Thomas Lane, a former Minneapolis police officer, will have a charge of accessory to second-degree unintentional murder dismissed. Lane, along with J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, have already been convicted on federal charges of knowingly violating Floyd’s rights during the events leading up to Floyd’s death.
The state recommends a sentence for Lane of three years, which is below state sentencing guidelines, and has agreed to allow him to serve time in federal prison. He has not yet been sentenced in the federal case.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after another officer, Derek Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground with a knee to his neck as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Lane and Kueng helped restrain Floyd, who was handcuffed. Lane held onto Floyd’s legs and Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back. Thao prevented bystanders from intervening during the 9.5-minute restraint.
Thomas Lane pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. My thoughts are once again with the victims, George Floyd and his family. Floyd should still be with us. But I am pleased that Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death.
— Attorney General Keith Ellison (@AGEllison) May 18, 2022
Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office prosecuted the case, said he was pleased that Lane accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death.
“My thoughts are once again with the victims, George Floyd and his family,” Ellison said in a tweet. “Floyd should still be with us. But I am pleased that Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death.”
In an earlier statement, he said the move was necessary to achieve justice.
“His acknowledgment that he did something wrong is an important step in healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community and the nation,” Ellison said. “While accountability is not justice, this is a significant moment in this case and a necessary resolution in our continued journey toward justice.”
The plea from Lane, who is white, comes during a week when the country is focused on the deaths of 10 black people in Buffalo, New York, at the hands of an 18-year-old white man who carried out the racist attack. shooting broadcast live Saturday at a supermarket.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said he and Lane would not comment. Lane was not arrested and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 21 on the state charge.
Lane was sentenced along with Kueng and Thao on federal charges in February, following a month-long trial that focused on officer training and the culture of the police department. All three were convicted of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care and Thao and Kueng were also convicted of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin during the killing, which was caught on video and sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the world as part of a reckoning. for racial injustice.
Chauvin pleaded guilty last year to a federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights and faces a federal sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years. He was previously convicted of state charges of murder and manslaughter and sentenced to 22.5 years in the state case.
After his federal conviction, there were questions about whether the state trial would proceed. At an April hearing in state court, prosecutors revealed they had offered plea deals to the three men, but were turned down. At the time, Gray said it was difficult for the defense to negotiate when the three did not yet know what their federal sentences would be.
Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, was in the courtroom for Lane’s plea hearing. When asked if his client would also take a plea deal, he replied “No comment.”
Kueng, who is Black, and Thao, who is Hmong American, are scheduled to go on trial in June on the state charges.