Thomas Lane sentenced to three years for his role in the death of George Floyd

A former Minneapolis police officer who pleaded guilty to his role in the murder of George Floyd was sentenced to 36 months in prison during a 10-minute virtual hearing on Wednesday morning. 

Thomas Lane, 39, pleaded guilty to second-degree aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter — creating an unreasonable risk, for his role in helping former Minneapolis Police Officer Dereck Chauvin restrain Floyd. 

Lane is already serving 2 and a half years in federal prison after pleading guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights. In the state case, he reached a plea deal with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office in which he agreed to plead guilty in return for a three-year sentence to be served at the same time as his federal sentence, meaning he will have no additional jail time. 

Judge Peter Cahill's sentence was five months less than Lane could have received under state law. Cahill said he made that decision because of Lane's lesser role in Floyd's death and because Lane had taken responsibility for his actions. 

George Floyd family penned a victim impact letter read by prosecutor Matthew Frank.

Lane appeared via video hook-up from a federal prison in Colorado.

'Hot mic' moment 

After the hearing was over, but while the feed was still live, Lane asked his attorney Earl Grey why he had to register as a "predatory offender" as part of his guilty plea and sentencing. He said, "What the f—k Earl… Chauvin has to register as a predatory offender?!?"  Gray promised to look into it before the feed ended.

Floyd’s death, captured by a teenage bystander who filmed with her cell phone, sparked protests and riots in Minneapolis and a global reckoning over racial injustice and police misconduct. 

Facts agreed to in plea deal 

As part of his plea agreement, Lane signed a statement acknowledging the following:

  • He helped former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin restrain Floyd in a prone position by holding down his legs.
  • The manner in which officers restrained Floyd posed a "serious risk" of killing him by "poisitonal asphyxia" or positioning his boy in such a way that he was not able to breath.
  • Lane agreed that he was aware of the risk to because of his experience and training as a Minneapolis Police officer.
  • He also agree that he knew from his training that officers should have placed Floyd in a side recovery position.
  • He had "specific knowledge" that Floyd was in distress because he could see how he was positioned and could hear Floyd repeatedly say that he could not breathe.
  • Lane agreed that he was aware that Floyd fell silent, lost consciousness and eventually did not have a pulse
  • Lane agreed that despite his training and his awareness of the situation, he continued to assist Chauvin, and that the restraint of Floyd was "unreasonable under the circumstances and constituted an unlawful use of force under Minnesota law."

After a highly publicized trial, Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and sentenced to 22 and a half years in 2021. 

The two other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were also convicted on federal civil rights charges and were sentenced to three and three and a half years, respectively. 

They are scheduled to go to trial on state charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter next month.