Thomas Lane: The former officer who held George Floyd’s legs has been sentenced to 3 years in prison on charges of state


The former Minneapolis police officer who held George Floyd’s legs in May 2020 was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for second-degree murder in Floyd’s death.

Thomas Lane, who is currently in federal prison for violating Floyd’s civil rights during his fatal restraint, appeared at a distance for the hearing wearing beige prison clothes. He began a 2.5-year federal sentence at the Colorado Bureau of Prisons late last month.

The former agent did not address the court on Wednesday. Work has already received credit for the 31 days served. Prosecutors did not ask for restitution as part of the sentence.

Lane was one of three former state officers charged with second-degree second-degree murder and second-degree involuntary manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death. In June, Lane pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge as part of a plea deal in which state and defense attorneys jointly recommended a three-year sentence to be served concurrently with his federal time, according to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office.

Prosecutors read a victim impact statement Wednesday on behalf of Floyd’s family. “We want everyone here today to know that we will never move forward,” read prosecutor Matthew Frank. “You’ll always stand up to George Floyd, but never move on.”

How the fatal arrest of George Floyd happened

Former officers Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng were arrested in May 2020 more than two years after they were first arrested for their actions (or lack thereof) when colleague Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck and back. he was handcuffed and lying on his stomach for more than nine minutes.

Lane, a new officer on the job for his fourth day, held Floyd’s legs during the arrest, while Kueng tied his torso and held off the crowd of grieving people who stood by Thao.

An ambulance eventually arrived and first responders lifted Floyd, who was limping at the time, into the vehicle. Lane joined them in the ambulance and performed CPR on Floyd.

Defense attorney Earl Gray said Lane agreed to plead guilty to the state charge because he faced a mandatory 12-year sentence if convicted of the most serious charge of murder. He also noted that Minnesota law allows defendants to be released from custody after serving two-thirds of their sentences.

“My client did not want to risk losing the murder case, so he decided to plead guilty to one count of murder with a 3-year sentence, to be released in 2 years, and dismiss the murder case,” Gray said in June. “The sentence will run concurrently with his federal sentence and he will serve his sentence in a federal institution. He has a newborn child and he didn’t want to risk not being a part of that child’s life.”

The harrowing video taken by a bystander showed Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, begging to be allowed to breathe and calling his mother before he passed out and died. Outrage over the incident sparked an international protest movement against the police’s treatment of black citizens. All four officers were fired and charged after Floyd’s death.

The city of Minneapolis agreed to pay Floyd’s estate $27 million in March 2021 after the city council voted to settle a lawsuit with his family.

In federal court earlier this year, Lane testified that he twice asked Chauvin to redo Floyd while detaining him, but both times he was denied.

Lane, Thao and Kueng were charged with violating Floyd’s civil rights. Thao and Kueng also pleaded guilty to an additional federal charge earlier this year for failing to intervene to stop Chauvin. Thao and Kueng were sentenced to 3.5 years and 3 years in federal prison, respectively.

Thao and Kueng still have a state trial scheduled for late October on charges of second degree involuntary manslaughter and second degree second degree murder. They have been declared innocent.

Chauvin was convicted of manslaughter in Floyd’s death by a state jury last year and sentenced to more than 22 years in prison. As part of a plea deal, Chauvin pleaded guilty in December to federal civil rights charges related to Floyd’s death and the restraint of a teenager.