The Washington Post

Ex-minneapoli­s officer sentenced to 3 years in Floyd’s death


A former Minneapoli­s police officer who held George Floyd’s legs as he begged for breath beneath Derek Chauvin’s knee was sentenced to three years in prison on a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaught­er.

Thomas K. Lane is already serving a 21/2-year federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights during the fatal May 2020 arrest. He pleaded guilty in May to a state charge in Floyd’s death as part of a plea deal to avoid a second trial over Floyd’s killing.

As part of the plea deal, state prosecutor­s dropped a charge of aiding and abetting seconddegr­ee murder against Lane in the case and agreed to allow him to serve his state sentence at the same time as his federal sentence.

Prosecutor­s had recommende­d three years in prison for Lane in the state case — a recommenda­tion below Minnesota sentencing guidelines. On Wednesday, Hennepin County District Judge Peter A. Cahill, who has overseen the legal proceeding­s over the state charges related to Floyd’s death, formally agreed to the plea deal.

Lane, 39, appeared at the virtual hearing from the Federal Correction­al Institutio­n Englewood, a low-security federal prison camp in Littleton, Colo., where he began serving his federal sentence on Aug. 30.

The former officer, who appeared on screen from a conference room and wore what appeared to be a khaki jumpsuit, was given an opportunit­y to address the court before his sentencing, but like his July sentencing hearing in the federal case, he declined.

In an affidavit signed in May as part of the plea agreement, Lane admitted responsibi­lity for his role in Floyd’s death. “I now make no claim that I am innocent,” the plea agreement, signed by Lane, said.

Earl Gray, Lane’s attorney, said in a July interview that his client, whose wife recently gave birth to their first child, pleaded guilty to avoid the risk of a longer prison sentence because he “wanted to be a part of his child’s life.”

During the hearing, Cahill told Lane he agreed to a lower sentence because of his “lesser role in the offense” and his “acceptance of responsibi­lity” in Floyd’s death. Cahill banned the former officer from owning firearms or ammunition for the rest of his life and said he must register as a “predatory offender, if required by law.”

“I think it was a very wise decision for you to accept responsibi­lity and move on with your life,” Cahill told Lane.

The former officer gave no visible reaction to Cahill’s statement, but after the judge adjourned the hearing and closed his camera, Lane called out to his attorney, even as the virtual hearing room remained open. “I’ve got to register as a predatory offender? What the f--- is that?” Lane said. “That’s what Chauvin has to do. So if I have a minimal role, why the f--- do I gotta do that? Jesus Christ.”

Under Minnesota statute, an individual convicted of murder or aiding and abetting murder is required to register as a “predatory offender” in the state. It was not immediatel­y clear if the statute applied to Lane, who was convicted of aiding and abetting manslaught­er.

Gray told his client that he would “look into it.”

A court administra­tor interrupte­d to warn Lane and his attorney that the virtual hearing room was still live. Shortly after, proceeding­s ended.

Lane’s state sentencing is the latest developmen­t in the ongoing legal battle over Floyd’s death. His fatal arrest, captured on video by bystanders, sparked worldwide protests and spurred an American reckoning on race and policing that continues more than two years later.

Two other officers who were at the scene — J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — are scheduled to face trial in Minneapoli­s next month on state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaught­er in Floyd’s killing after they rejected plea deals in the case.

Members of Floyd’s family did not attend Lane’s sentencing. But Matthew Frank, an assistant Minnesota attorney general and one of the lead prosecutor­s in the case, read a lengthy written statement from the family that spoke of their continued pain over Floyd’s death and how the repeated trials and lack of “accountabi­lity” had only added to their anguish.

“My family never asked for this,” the statement said. “How many more times will me and my family give a victim impact statement?”

The statement added, “We want everyone here today to know we will never move on because there’s no such thing.”

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