One of four former Minneapolis police officers at the scene of George Floyd’s death learned his sentence on manslaughter charges on Wednesday.
Thomas Lane, who already pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Floyd, was sentenced to three years.
He was already serving a 2 1/2-year federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights. FOX 9 Minneapolis reported that Wednesday’s sentencing means no additional jail time for Lane.
In reaching a plea deal with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office, he agreed to plead guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter under the contingency that he get a three-year state sentence to be served at the same time as his federal sentence.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pinned the 46-year-old black man to the ground with a knee to his neck as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Lane, who is white, held down Floyd’s legs. Alexander Kueng, who is black, knelt on Floyd’s back, and Tou Thao, who is Hmong American, kept bystanders from intervening during the approximately 9 1/2-minute restraint.
Bystander video went viral online, prompting several nights of violent rioting in Minneapolis, as well as other metropolitan areas of the country, with daytime demonstrations in the name of the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement.
Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and was given a 22 1/2-year state sentence in 2021. He also pleaded guilty to a federal count of violating Floyd’s civil rights. His state and federal sentences are being served at the same time.
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 go to trial on state charges of aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter in October.
In August, Thao and Lane rejected a final offer from prosecutors for a plea deal, advancing the case to trial. During a brief hearing, Thao said: “It would be lying for me to accept any plea offer.”
Like for Chauvin’s state trial, Floyd’s friend Morries Lester Hall has indicated that he plans on pleading the Fifth to avoid testifying in the upcoming trial for Thao and Kueng.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, had argued that Hall’s testimony might reveal that he and Floyd were using drugs in the area before police arrived at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue while responding to a report of Floyd allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at the Cups Food convenience store.
Nelson claimed that Floyd could have died of a drug overdose. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that Floyd died of cardiac arrest, but attorneys representing Floyd’s family maintained that Floyd died of asphyxia. In the federal trial for the three other officers on the scene, a toxicology expert told the court that Floyd died of asphyxia after Chauvin restricted his airway for more than nine minutes.