A former Minneapolis police officer who pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in connection with the killing of George Floyd received his multiple-year sentence this week.
As a part of the man’s plea deal, the charge of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder was dismissed.
During an eight-minute hearing held via video conference on Wednesday, Sept. 21, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill sentenced Thomas Lane to three years in prison for the crime, CBS News reports.
The judge said it was a “wise decision” for him to have pleaded guilty and accepted “responsibility” for his part in Floyd’s death, saying this way he will be able to move on with his life after he is done with his sentence.
Lane is currently serving a 30-month sentence at a Federal Correctional Institution Englewood, the low-security federal prison camp in Littleton, Colorado.
Access to the hearing at the Hennepin County Government Center was not allowed to the press or the public, including Floyd’s family or Lane’s, according to NBC News.
The new sentence will run concurrently with his federal sentence at the federal facility, receiving credit for 31 days he already served.
The virtual setup was made to accommodate the ex-cop who arrived at the facility sometime around Aug. 28, according to a court order made public on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
He was assigned there after being found guilty of violating Floyd’s civil rights for his role in the killing.
According to CNN, prosecutors are not seeking restitution as part of the sentence.
However, one provision of the judge’s ruling will require Lane to start a new career once he is released. He will be prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition for the remainder of his life. Lane will also have to “register as a predatory offender if required by law.”
After the hearing, Lane was heard asking his attorney, Earl Gray, “I have to register as a predatory offender, what the f**k is that?”
He then said, “That’s what Chauvin has to do. If I had a minimal role, why the f**k do I have to do that?”
Later Gray shed light on the registration, concentrating on the “if,” which is different from that of principal offender Derek Chauvin, whose state sentencing memo says “register as a predatory offender as required by law.”
Lane’s lawyer said his client’s memo said, “If required and it’s not required so he will not have to register” as an offender.
Although Floyd’s family was not there, remarks were made on their behalf, by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank who read their statement.
“We want everyone here today to know we will never move on,” prosecutor Frank read. “You will always show up for George Floyd, but never move on.”
The reason why Lane took the plea deal, according to his attorney Gray, was because he has infant child. If he had gone to trial and lost the murder case, he could have faced a mandatory sentence of 12 years.
“My client did not want to risk losing the murder case so he decided to plead guilty to manslaughter with a 3-year sentence, to be released in 2 years, and the murder case dismissed,” Gray said in June. “The sentence will be concurrent with his federal sentence, and he will serve his time in a federal institution. He has a newborn baby and did not want to risk not being part of the child’s life.”
An investigation into Floyd’s murder revealed Lane asked Chauvin twice if Floyd should be flipped to his side. However, the superior officer refused to listen as he held a knee to the handcuffed and prone Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Lane was convicted because he assisted in holding Floyd face down to the ground despite the risk he acknowledged was there.
In Lane’s plea deal, he admitted that he knew from his training that how Floyd was being treated was not only wrong but went against how he was trained. He also stated he heard the victim cry out that he couldn’t breathe, was aware that Floyd became silent and recognized at some point that the man was unconscious but did not let up.
Lane and two other officers, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, were each convicted in a federal trial of violating Floyd’s civil rights during the fatal restraint and were later sentenced.
Thao and Kueng were also found guilty of an additional federal count, earlier this year for not intervening and trying to stop Chauvin. For this, they were sentenced to 3.5 years and 3 years in federal prison, respectively. Neither of the men has reported to federal prison yet.
Unlike Lane, Thao or Kueng did not accept a plea deal and thus will face a state trial in October on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
To these counts, both former officers have pleaded not guilty.
Chauvin, the man whose act of restraint is attributed to causing Floyd’s death, was convicted in state court of the crime in 2021. He was sentenced to over 22 years in prison. He later took a plea deal in his federal civil rights case in connection with Floyd’s death and for the restraint of a teenager in a separate, non-related incident.