Ex-Minneapolis Cop Sentenced to 3 Years in Plea Deal Over George Floyd’s Death

Ex-Police Officers Charged In Death Of George Floyd Returns To Court - Credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Ex-Police Officers Charged In Death Of George Floyd Returns To Court - Credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Thomas Lane, the former Minneapolis cop who held down George Floyd’s legs while he was murdered by Derek Chauvin, received a three year sentence in a plea deal on a state charge Wednesday, Associated Press reports. Lane is already serving a federal sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison after previously pleading guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. 

On the state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Floyd, prosecutors and Lane’s attorneys had come to an agreement to recommend a sentence of three years, which is below the sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors also agreed to allow him to serve the penalty concurrent to his federal sentence.

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“I think it was a very wise decision for you to accept responsibility and move on with your life,” Judge Peter Cahill said when accepting the plea agreement on Wednesday, noting that Floyd’s family had been deprived of moving on.

His federal sentencing in July came just over two months after Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the plea deal with Lane on Wednesday, May 18. As part of the deal, prosecutors dismissed the second-degree unintentional murder charge that Lane was also facing in relation to Floyd’s death.

Ellison’s office and Lane’s defense attorney recommended a sentence of just 36 months; the judge overseeing the case instead handed Lane a 30-month sentence. Prosecutors also agreed that Lane will be allowed to serve his state sentence at a federal institution concurrently with the sentence he receives after being found guilty of violating Floyd’s civil rights earlier this year.

“Today, my thoughts are once again with the victims, George Floyd and his family,” Ellison said in a statement. “Nothing will bring Floyd back. He should still be with us today. I am pleased Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death. His acknowledgment he did something wrong is an important step toward healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community, and the nation. While accountability is not justice, this is a significant moment in this case and a necessary resolution on our continued journey to justice.”

Lane’s lawyer did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment, though he said in a statement shared with CNN: “My client did not want to risk losing the murder case so he decided to plead guilty to manslaughter with a three-year sentence, to be released in two years, and the murder case dismissed. 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.”

Lane, along with Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, were all charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder in June 2020. Lane and Kueng both helped restrain Floyd while he was handcuffed, with Lane holding down Floyd’s legs at one point. In a video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s back, Lane was heard expressing some concern and asking whether Floyd should be rolled over onto his side, which Chauvin rejected. Neither Lane, Thao, nor Kueng tried to stop Chauvin as he murdered Floyd. 

Thao and Kueng are still set to go to trial on the state charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. That trial is slated to begin on June 13.

Thao and Kueng, along with Lane, were also convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights back in February. Chauvin was also originally charged in the federal case but ended up pleading guilty as part of a plea deal. Chauvin is currently serving a 22-and-a-half-year sentence after being found guilty of murdering Floyd.

This story was updated on July 21, 2022 at 1:30 p.m. to reflect Thomas Lane’s prison sentence and updated on Sept. 21, 2022 to add the state sentence under the plea deal.

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