Ex-Cop Gets Light Sentence for Role in George Floyd's Death

Thomas Lane's 3-year sentence is below state guidelines
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 21, 2022 1:48 PM CDT
Ex-Cop Gets 3 Years for Role in George Floyd's Death
In this image from video, former Minneapolis Police Officer Thomas Lane listens Sept. 21, 2022 from Littleton, Colorado.   (Minnesota Attorney General's Office via AP)

A former Minneapolis police officer who pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd was sentenced Wednesday to three years. Thomas Lane is already serving a 2.5-year federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights. When it came to the state’s case, prosecutors and Lane’s attorneys had agreed to a recommended sentence of three years—which is below the sentencing guidelines—and prosecutors agreed to allow him to serve that penalty at the same time as his federal sentence, and in a federal prison. Judge Peter Cahill accepted the plea agreement, saying he would sentence Lane below the guidelines because he accepted responsibility, the AP reports.

"I think it was a very wise decision for you to accept responsibility and move on with your life," Cahill said, while acknowledging that the Floyd family has not been able to move on with theirs. Under Minnesota rules, it's presumed Lane would serve two years of his state sentence in prison, and the rest on parole. Floyd, 46, died in May 2020 after Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck as the Black man repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Lane held down Floyd’s legs.

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 agreement, a more serious count of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder was dismissed. Lane appeared via video from the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood, a low-security federal prison camp in Colorado. He made no statement to the court prior to sentencing.

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But after the hearing was adjourned, Lane complained to his attorney that the judge had said he would have to register as a predatory offender "if required." "I gotta register as a predatory offender? What the (expletive) is that?" Lane said. And he added: "That’s what Chauvin has to do. If I have a minimal role, why the (expletive) do I have to do that?" His attorney, Earl Gray, told him he would look into it. J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, two other former Minneapolis officers convicted on federal civil rights charges, are scheduled to go to trial on state charges of aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter in October. (More Thomas Lane stories.)

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