Thomas Lane, a former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd and pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, got three years in prison on Wednesday.
On May 25, 2020, Lane held Floyd’s legs down while he cried out that he couldn’t breathe. At the same time, another former officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes. In May, Lane pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter in the second degree. State prosecutors and Lane’s lawyer both thought that Lane should get three years in prison.
The hearing was held via WebEx because Lane is serving a 30-month sentence at a federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Englewood, Colorado. He was found guilty by a federal jury of violating Floyd’s rights by not giving him medical care after Chauvin kneeled on his neck. A court order made public on Tuesday says that he went to the place around August 28. At the Hennepin County Government Center, the hearing was closed to the media and other members of the public, including family members of Lane and Floyd. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank spoke for Floyd’s family by reading a statement.
A second-degree murder charge against Lane was dropped as part of his plea deal, a spokesman for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office was in charge of the case, said before.
Earl Gray, Lane’s lawyer, said in May that his client has a new baby and “didn’t want to risk not being a part of the child’s life” if he lost the murder case and had to serve a 12-year sentence. Gray also said that Lane’s state sentence will run at the same time as his federal sentence, and he will do his time in federal prison.
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Evidence showed that Lane asked Floyd twice if he should be turned on his side, but he still helped put Floyd face down on the pavement even though it was dangerous.
Two other former officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao will go to trial next month on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Kueng helped hold Floyd down, and Thao kept worried people away. They were given the same deal that Lane was given, but they turned it down last month.
Chauvin, the officer in charge at the scene, was found guilty of second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in April 2021. In June 2021, he was given a prison sentence of 22 12 years.
After a clerk said Floyd bought cigarettes with a fake $20 bill, Kueng and Lane helped Chauvin hold Floyd down outside of a convenience store. Floyd was 46 and Black. Chauvin and Lane are white. Kueng and Thao are black and Hmong American, respectively. Some bystanders took a video of Floyd’s last moments, which sparked protests all over the world against police brutality and racism in general.
In February, Kueng, Lane, and Thao were found guilty of federal crimes. When they didn’t give Floyd medical help when they were working for the government, they violated his civil rights. Kueng and Thao were also found guilty because they did nothing when Chauvin killed Floyd by putting his knee on his neck.
Chauvin admitted last year that he had broken Floyd’s civil rights, which was a federal crime. In July, he was given a sentence of just over 20 years.
“I don’t understand why you did what you did. But putting your knee on someone’s neck until they died is wrong, and you should get a big punishment for that, said Judge Paul Magnuson of the U.S. District Court in St. Paul when he handed down the sentence. He also said that Chauvin “completely ruined the lives of three other young officers.”
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