MINNEAPOLIS — A former Minneapolis police officer who pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the murder of George Floyd is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday.
Thomas Lane is already serving a two-and-a-half-year federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights. As for the state’s case, prosecutors and Lane’s attorneys agreed to a recommended sentence of three years, and prosecutors agreed to allow him to serve that sentence concurrently with his federal sentence and in federal prison.
Lane is expected to receive a state sentence to coincide with his federal time. Wednesday’s sentencing hearing will be held remotely, with Lane appearing via video from Englewood Federal Correctional Institution, the low-security federal prison camp in Littleton, Colorado.
Floyd, 46, died in May 2020 after officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground with a knee on Floyd’s neck as the black man repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Lane, who is white, held onto Floyd’s legs. J. Alexander Kueng, who is black, knelt on Floyd’s back, and Tou Thao, who is Hmong American, prevented bystanders from intervening during the nine-and-a-half-minute restraint.
The killing, captured on widely viewed bystander video, sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the world as part of a reckoning over racial injustice.
Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and received a state sentence of 22 1/2 years in 2021. He also pleaded guilty to a federal count of violating Floyd’s civil rights, and his state and federal sentences are serving concurrently. .
Kueng and Thao were also convicted of federal civil rights charges and sentenced to three and three and a half years, respectively. They have yet to report to federal prison and are scheduled to go on trial on state charges of accessory to murder and manslaughter in October.
When Lane pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter earlier this year, he admitted that he intentionally helped restrain Floyd in a way that created an unreasonable risk and caused his death. As part of the plea deal, she was dismissed on a more serious charge of accessory to second-degree unintentional murder.
In his guilty plea, Lane admitted that he knew from his training that holding Floyd in this way created a serious risk of death, and that he heard Floyd say he couldn’t breathe, he knew that Floyd was silent, he had no pulse and seemed to have lost consciousness
The plea agreement says Lane knew Floyd should have been turned onto his side, and evidence shows he asked twice if that should be done, but continued to assist in the restraint despite the risk. Lane agreed that the restraint was “unreasonable under the circumstances and constituted an unlawful use of force.”
Lane did not speak at his federal sentencing and it was not clear if he would speak on Wednesday, although he is entitled to make a statement.
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