Minneapolis, MN – One of the former Minneapolis police officers awaiting trial for aiding and abetting former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest that left George Floyd dead pleaded guilty on Wednesday.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Thomas Lane, a rookie working his third shift ever as a police officer when Floyd died in custody on May of 2020, was charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death.
Lane pleaded guilty on May 18 to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and in exchange for his plea, prosecutors asked the judge to dismiss the charge of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder, the Associated Press reported.
In exchange for Lane pleading guilty, the state is recommending a three-year sentence to the judge and asking that the former police officer be allowed to serve the time in a federal prison.
A federal jury in Minnesota found Lane and former Minneapolis Police Officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao guilty on all counts on Feb. 24 of depriving George Floyd of his rights under color of law for his death in police custody.
Chauvin had already pleaded guilty to federal charges on Dec. 15, 2021 in order to avoid another lengthy and expensive trial.
Thao, a nine-year veteran of the police force when the incident occurred, was convicted of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law for failing to intervene and depriving Floyd of medical care, CBS News reported.
Kueng was also convicted of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law for failing to intervene and depriving Floyd of medical care.
Lane, 38, was convicted on one count for depriving Floyd of medical care, according to CBS News.
All three officers were facing up to life in prison and hefty fines because their crimes resulted in Floyd’s death, the Associated Press reported.
A federal sentencing date for Lane, Kueng, and Tao has not yet been set.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in state court on April 20, 2021 and sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.
All four officers were indicted a month later on the federal civil rights charges.
Lane, Kueng, and Tao were initially scheduled to stand trial last summer but the trials were pushed back until after the federal case had been completed.
Following Lane’s guilty plea, Kueng, and Thao are still scheduled to stand trial in Hennepin County court on July 5.
After the former officers were found guilty, there was some question as to whether the state trials would proceed, the Associated Press reported.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said the state offered all three officers plea deals but the offers were rejected.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said at the time that it was hard to negotiate without knowing what the officers’ federal sentences would ultimately be, the Associated Press reported.
The attorney general called Lane’s plea agreement an “important step toward healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community, and the nation,” ABC News reported.
He said he was glad Lane had accepted responsibility for his actions.
“While accountability is not justice, this is a significant moment in this case and a necessary resolution on our continued journey to justice,” Ellison said.
Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020 after officers responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that he had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.