MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane has pleaded guilty to the state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
Lane appeared before Judge Peter Cahill in Hennepin County Court Wednesday morning to enter the plea.
As part of the deal, Lane will serve three years in a federal facility, to be served concurrently with a federal sentence that has yet to be announced. He will be officially sentenced on the state charges following his federal sentencing. In addition the state will drop the charge of aiding second-degree unintentional murder.
Attorneys for fellow ex-officers Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, also both charged with aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and aiding and abetting second-degree murder, were in the courtroom Wednesday but did not discuss plea deals for their clients, according to KARE 11's Lou Raguse.
WATCH BELOW: St. Thomas professor Mark Osler discusses former Minneapolis officer Thomas Lane's guilty plea to his state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
According to the Associated Press, Lane wasn't taken into custody and a presentence investigation was ordered. He's scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 21 on the state charge.
Lane's attorney, Earl Gray, released this statement following the guilty plea:
"The State prosecution has a mandatory 12 year sentence if convicted of the unintentional murder. 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. 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."
Attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms, counsel for the Floyd Family, released the following statement following Lane's guilty plea:
“Today’s guilty plea by former officer Thomas Lane brings the Floyd family another step towards closure for the horrific and historic murder of George Floyd. While this plea reflects a certain level of accountability, it comes only after Mr. Lane was already convicted by a federal jury on a related charge. Attorney General Keith Ellison, all of the state and federal prosecutors, the brave men and women who served on the state and federal juries, and the community compelled this result. These individuals and many more should be commended for their efforts leading towards today. Hopefully, this plea helps usher in a new era where officers understand that juries will hold them accountable, just as they would any other citizen. Perhaps soon, officers will not require families to endure the pain of lengthy court proceedings where their criminal acts are obvious and apparent. It is equally critical that the municipalities who are responsible for employing, training, and supervising their officers take their duties to the community to heart, and hold their own officers accountable before a criminal court is required to do so. While today is a step in the right direction, we only need to look to the recent and tragic killing of Amir Locke to understand that the City of Minneapolis has a long journey ahead to regain the trust of its citizenry."
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison shared his own statement Wednesday morning, writing, "[Lane] 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, along with Thao and Kueng, was convicted of violating Floyd's civil rights in a federal trial back in February by not intervening when Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck.
All three officers were charged with denying Floyd his right to medical care, while Kueng and Thao also faced charges for failing to intervene with Chauvin's use of force.
On May 13, a federal judge denied motions by the three former officers to acquit them after their convictions involving Floyd's murder.
The state trial, at this point for just Thao and Kueng, is scheduled to begin with motions on June 13. Jury selection begins June 14 with opening statements set for July 5. Judge Peter Cahill has said he expects the evidence phase to take four or five weeks, meaning the trial could last into early August.
At his state trial in April 2021, Derek Chauvin was convicted of second-degree manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder for Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, and was sentenced to 22.5 years.
Then in May 2022, the judge overseeing the federal civil rights cases of the four former Minneapolis police officers accepted the terms of Chauvin's plea agreement. Under the plea agreement both sides agreed Chauvin should face a sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years, with prosecutors saying they would seek 25.
This is a developing story. KARE 11 will provide more details as new information becomes available.
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