Thomas Lane is taking some accountability for his role in the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, but it’s not in exchange for nothing! You may recall that Thomas was the former Minneapolis Police officer who held George’s legs as his old co-worker and convicted murderer Derek Chauvin executed the deadly restraint. According to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Thomas pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter.
“My thoughts are once again with the victims, George Floyd and his family. Floyd should still be here with us. But I am pleased Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death,” AG Keith tweeted.
The attorney general added that Thomas’ guilty plea for “aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter” is an important step, particularly in the healing journey for George’s family.
“His acknowledgment he did something wrong is an important step toward healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community & the nation,” AG Keith tweeted. “While accountability is not justice, this is a significant moment in this case & a necessary resolution on our continued journey to justice.”
Thomas Lane Accepts Plea Deal In Exchange For Dismissed Murder Charge
But the former cop didn’t entirely lose out by taking accountability. Authorities dismissed Thomas’ “abetting second-degree unintentional murder” charge in exchange for his guilty plea, per AG Keith. A conviction for that murder charge means a mandatory 12-year prison sentence. So, with this guilty plea, Thomas dodged the possibility of spending more than a decade behind bars.
Additionally, CNN reports that both the state and Thomas’ attorneys have recommended a sentence of 36 months–just three years for aiding in George’s death. His lawyer Earl Gray said Thomas copped the guilty plea because he wanted to be a present father.
“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,” Earl said. “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.”
What Role Did Thomas Lane Play In The Death Of George Floyd?
Thomas had only four days on the job when Derek restricted George’s airways for nine minutes. He was one of four officers, including Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng, present during the horrific crime captured on video. Thomas pinned down George’s legs, and J. Alexander pinned down his torso as Tou kept the growing and protesting bystanders at bay. Meanwhile, Derek pressed his knee into George’s neck and back as George begged for oxygen, called for his mother, lost consciousness, and died.
Lane reportedly attempted to intervene in Derek’s handling of the arrest twice, per body camera footage. First, he asked Derek about putting up George’s legs, as taught in the police academy. Derek replied, “No, we’re good.” Thomas later wondered if they should roll George onto his side. Again, Derek rejected the suggestion saying, “No, we’re good like this.”
When the ambulance arrived, CNN says Thomas joined the first responders in the vehicle and performed CPR on Floyd’s limp body.
The Minnesota Judicial Branch website says Thomas will receive his sentence for the manslaughter charge later this year on September 21.
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