Minneapolis, MN – Former Minneapolis Police Officer Thomas Lane was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison for aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
Lane is already serving a two-and-a-half year federal sentence in prison for violating Floyd’s civil rights.
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 Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin and two other officers holding Floyd on the ground while a third officer kept the crowd back.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Now-former Officer Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.
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.
Lane and former Minneapolis Police Officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were initially scheduled to stand trial last summer but the trials were pushed back until after the federal case had been completed.
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.
Under the plea agreement, prosecutors and Lane’s attorneys agreed to a recommended sentence of three years, below the sentencing guidelines, the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors also agreed to allow Lane to serve his state sentence concurrently with his federal sentence in a federal prison.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill accepted the plea agreement on Sept. 31, the Associated Press reported.
Cahill said he would sentence Lane beneath recommended guidelines because the former officer had accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death.
“I think it was a very wise decision for you to accept responsibility and move on with your life,” the judge said.
Former Minneapolis Police Officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were initially scheduled to stand trial last summer but the trials were pushed back until after their federal cases had been completed.
In August, Kueng and Thao rejected a similar plea deal from prosecutors that would have let them avoid the state trial and more prison time than they’re already serving on federal civil rights charges.
At the hearing held in Hennepin County court before District Judge Peter Cahill on Aug. 15, Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank offered to drop the charges against Kueng and Thao for aiding and abetting the second-degree murder of George Floyd if they pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Frank said prosecutors would recommend that Kueng and Thao each be sentenced to a three-year prison term that would be served concurrently with the federal prison sentences they’re currently serving.
Kueng and Thao were sentenced to three and three-and-a-half years in July for violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Both former Minneapolis police officers turned down the prosecutor’s offer in front of the judge, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
“It would be a lie and a sin for me to accept a plea deal,” Thao told Cahill.
Frank said the plea deal offer expired on Aug. 15, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Thao, a nine-year veteran of the Minneapolis police at the time of Floyd’s death, testified in the federal trial that he didn’t know if Chauvin had violated policy when he put a knee on Floyd’s neck because he had repeatedly seen the move demonstrated at the police academy, The Washington Post reported.
During Chauvin’s state trial, police trainers testified that the moves used by officers the day that Floyd died were not taught or sanctioned.
However, Thao’s attorneys entered into evidence a disk of pictures provided by the police department to graduating cadets so they would “have some memories of our academy days” that proved the moves Chauvin used on Floyd were taught and practiced in training at the police academy, The Washington Post reported.
Kueng and Thao’s trial is scheduled to begin in Hennepin County on Oct. 24.