A former Minneapolis officer pleaded guilty to his role in the murder of George Floyd, whose May 2020 death ignited months of social justice protests and calls to defund the police.
Thomas Lane pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one charge of second-degree manslaughter for his role in Floyd’s death, entering into a plea agreement that dropped a count of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
“Today my thoughts are once again with the victims, George Floyd and his family. Nothing will bring Floyd back. He should still be with us today,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison in a statement. “I am pleased Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death. His 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.”
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Thomas is one of three police officers who were convicted in federal court and are expected to face trial for state charges next month. The officer will avoid facing trial as part of his plea agreement.
The former officer was previously convicted alongside two others in federal court in February for violating Floyd’s civil rights during the arrest that ended in his death. The two other officers, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, pleaded not guilty to the state charges and rejected plea deals similar to the one Thomas accepted.
The state is expected to still go to trial on June 13 for Kueng and Thao, as they face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. The state attorney general office declined to comment further due to the nature of the case.
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Thomas was on his first week on the job when he assisted Derek Chauvin, who was convicted in state court last year and sentenced to 22 years in prison, in holding Floyd on the ground during his arrest. Floyd died after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than 9 minutes, an action that the former officer later admitted was unreasonable force.
Thomas will serve a sentence of three years in prison concurrent with his federal sentence, which is not yet determined.