Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane pleaded guilty Wednesday (May 18) to a state charge of abetting the second-degree manslaughter death of George Floyd in May 2020, the Associated Press reports.
“His acknowledgment he did something wrong is an important step toward healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community, and the nation,” the AP quoted Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office prosecuted the state case.
“While accountability is not justice, this is a significant moment in this case and a necessary resolution on our continued journey to justice.”
Under the plea deal, a count of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder is dismissed. And the state is recommending a three-year sentence served in federal prison, a sentence that’s below Minnesota’s guidelines, according to the AP.
Lane and co-defendants J. Alexander and Tou Thao were convicted in February on federal charges of willfully violating Floyd’s civil rights. The three former Minneapolis police officers were at the scene when ex-cop Derek Chauvin murdered Floyd on May 25, 2020, by pressing his knee on the handcuffed Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes. After a two-week trial, a state jury convicted Chauvin April 20, 2021, on all counts of murder and manslaughter.
In the federal trial against the three former officers, a St. Paul, Minnesota jury said they showed "deliberate indifference to [Floyd's] medical needs" when they stood by and watched Chauvin kneel on Floyd’s neck, ignoring Floyd saying that he could not breathe and bystanders pleading with them to stop.
The legal team representing Floyd’s family, led by attorney Benjamin Crump praised the development, saying it brings them another step towards closure.
“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,” the team said in a statement. “Perhaps soon, officers will not require families to endure the pain of lengthy court proceedings where their criminal acts are obvious and apparent.”
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said he and Lane had no comments about his guilty plea, the AP reported. Lane is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 21 on the state charge.