Thomas Lane sentenced to prison for violating federal civil rights in the murder of George Floyd

Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane was sentenced to 2½ years in prison on a federal civil rights charge for his role in the killing of George Floyd.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson sentenced Lane on Thursday for his February conviction of depriving Floyd of medical care as he lay dying under officer Derek Chauvin’s knee in May 2020.

The killing of Floyd, who was black, sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the world against racial injustice in policing, and launched a national reckoning on race.

Federal prosecutors had requested a sentence of up to 6½ years, in accordance with federal guidelines.

Lane’s attorney, Earl Grey, had asked for just over two years. He had argued that Lane, a rookie officer, was the least culpable of the officers in part because he had twice asked his colleagues if Floyd should be turned on his side, but was rebuffed by Chauvin.

“Any reasonable person should just be disgusted, should be furious” that Lane was ever charged, Gray told jurors in closing argument.

2 other ex-officers not yet sentenced

Lane faces a separate sentence Sept. 21 in state court after changing his guilty plea to a reduced charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter.

Lane and fellow rookie J. Alexander Kueng helped restrain Floyd while Chauvin, who is white and was the highest ranking officer on the scene, killed Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly 9 minutes and half despite the handcuffed black man’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe.

Chauvin’s partner Tou Thao helped hold off a group of increasingly worried onlookers outside a Minneapolis convenience store where the unarmed Floyd tried to smuggle a counterfeit US$20 bill in May 2020.

Lane testified that he didn’t realize how serious Floyd’s condition was until paramedics turned him around. Prosecutor Manda Sertich countered that his expressions of concern showed he knew Floyd was in distress but “did nothing to give Mr. Floyd the medical help he knew Mr. Floyd so desperately needed. “.

Chauvin pleaded guilty to sever federal civil rights charges in December in the murder of Floyd and in an unrelated case involving a black teenager. It earned him a 21-year sentence when he appeared before Magnuson two weeks ago.

Magnuson had harsh words for Chauvin during the hearing, saying, “You absolutely destroyed the lives of three young officers by taking command of the scene.”

Chauvin was already serving a 22½-year sentence in state court for second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. His federal and state sentences run concurrently and he has not yet been transferred to the federal prison system.

Magnuson has not set sentencing dates for the federal charges against Thao, who is Hmong American, and Kueng, who is black.

Thao and Kueng are free on bail pending sentencing. Both men declined plea deals in the state case and are set to stand trial on October 24 for aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.