MINNEAPOLIS – A former Minneapolis police officer who pleaded guilty to state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the killing of George Floyd was sentenced to three years on Wednesday.
Thomas Lane already is serving 2 1/2 years in federal prison for violating Floyd’s civil rights. When it comes to the state case, prosecutors and Lane’s attorneys agreed to a recommended sentence of three years, below sentencing guidelines, and prosecutors agreed to let him serve that sentence concurrently with the federal sentence and in federal prison.
Judge Peter Cahill accepted the plea deal, saying he would sentence Lane according to the guidelines because he was taking responsibility.
“I think it was a very wise decision for you to accept responsibility and move on with your life,” Cahill said, acknowledging that the Floyd family was unable to move on with their lives.
Under Minnesota rules, Lane is expected to serve two years of his sentence in state prison and the remainder on supervised release, commonly known as parole.
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 Floyd’s legs. J. Alexander Kueng, who is Black, knelt on Floyd’s back while Tou Thao, who is Hmong American, kept bystanders from interfering during the 9 1/2-minute time limit.
The killing, captured on video and widely viewed by bystanders, sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the world as part of a retribution for racial injustice.
Wednesday’s sentencing hearing was held remotely. Lane appeared in the video from Englewood Federal Correctional Institution, a low-security federal prison in Littleton, Colorado. He did not make any statements to the court before the verdict was announced. 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.”
“Do I have to register as a predator? What’s that (expletive)?” Lane said. He added, “That’s what Chauvin has to do. If I have a minimal role, why (expletive) should I do it?”
Gray told him he would figure it out.
Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter and was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in state prison in 2021. He too pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights, and is serving concurrent state and federal sentences.
Kueng and Tao were also found guilty on federal civil charges and sentenced to three and 3 1/2 years, respectively. They have yet to appear in federal prison, and are being held appointed court on state charges in accessory to murder and involuntary 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 way that created an unreasonable risk and caused his death. As part of the plea deal, a more serious charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter was dropped.
In his plea agreement, Lane admitted that he knew from training that holding Floyd in this manner posed a serious risk of death, and that he heard Floyd say he couldn’t breathe, knew that Floyd had gone silent, was absent pulse and seems to have passed out.
The plea agreement said Lane knew Floyd needed to be turned on his side — and testimony showed he asked twice if he should do so — but he continued to help restrain him despite the risk. Lane agreed that the restraint was “unreasonable in the circumstances and constituted an unlawful use of force”.
Watch the AP’s full coverage of the killing of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd
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