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 already isfor violating Floyd’s civil rights.
In the state case, prosecutors and Lane’s attorneys agreed to a recommended sentence of three years — below sentencing guidelines — and prosecutors agreed to allow him to serve that sentence concurrently with his federal sentence, in federal prison.
Judge Peter Cahill accepted the plea deal, saying he would impose a sentence below the guidelines because he accepted responsibility.
“I think it was a very wise decision to accept responsibility and move on with your life,” Cahill said, acknowledging that the Floyd family could not move on with their lives.
Under Minnesota rules, Lane is supposed to serve two years of his state sentence in prison and the remainder on supervised release, known as parole.
Floyd, 46, died in May 2020, who is White, pinned him to the ground with his knee on Floyd’s neck as the Black man repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Lane, who is white, held 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 9 1/2-minute standoff.
The killing, captured on widely viewed bystander video, sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the world as part of a crackdown on racial injustice.
The sentencing hearing was held remotely on Wednesday. Lane appeared via video from Englewood Federal Correctional Institution, a low-security federal prison in Littleton, Colorado. The entire sentencing took about eight minutes, CBS Minnesota.
He did not make a statement to the court before the sentencing. But after the hearing was adjourned, Lane complained to his lawyer that the judge said he would have to register as a predatory offender “if necessary.”
“I have to register as a predator? What’s that (expletive)?” Lane said. And added: “That’s what Chauvin has to do. If I have a minimal role, why (expletive) do I have to do it?”
Gray told him he would look into it.
Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in state prison in 2021. He also pleaded guilty to a federal count of violating Floyd’s civil rights, and his state and federal sentences are to be served concurrently.
Kueng and Thao were also convicted on federal civil rights charges and were sentenced to three and 3 1/2 years, respectively. They have not yet reported to federal prison, and are scheduled to stand trial on state charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in October.
When Lane pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder earlier this year, he admitted that he intentionally helped restrain Floyd in a manner 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 involuntary manslaughter was dismissed.
In his plea agreement, Lane admitted that he knew from his training that restraining Floyd in this manner created a serious risk of death, and that he heard Floyd say he couldn’t breathe, knew that Floyd had gone quiet, that there was no pulse and that he seemed to have lost consciousness.
The plea agreement says Lane knew Floyd should have been thrown to his side – and evidence shows he asked twice if he should do so – but continued to help restrain him despite the risk. Lane agreed that the restraint was “unreasonable under the circumstances and constituted an unlawful use of force.”