Thomas Lane, one of the three former Minneapolis Police officers who stood by while Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd, has pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter.
Lane expects to serve two years of a three-year sentence based on a plea agreement announced Wednesday by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
“I am pleased Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death,” Ellison said. “His acknowledgment that 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, 39, faced at least a dozen years behind bars if a state jury were to convict him of unintentional murder in his upcoming trial.
Earlier this year, a federal jury convicted Lane and fellow former Officers Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng of violating Floyd’s civil rights. The trio faced state charges of aiding and abetting murder and aiding and abetting manslaughter for their actions.
Prosecutors said video of the incident showed that while Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, Lane held Floyd’s legs while Kueng also restrained Floyd.
Thau stood and watched, prosecutors said.
A judge set Lane’s sentencing for Sept. 21.
“My client did not want to risk losing the murder case, so he decided to plead guilty to manslaughter with a 3-year sentence, be released in 2 years, and the murder case dismissed,” Lane’s attorney Earl Gray told reporters. “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.”