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A former Minneapolis police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to one state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd.
As part of the plea deal, Thomas Lane will have one count of accessory to second-degree unintentional murder dismissed.
Lane, along with J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, have already been convicted on federal charges of willfully violating Floyd’s rights during the May 2020 lockdown that led to the black man’s death.
Lane’s plea comes during a week in which the country is focused on the death of 10 black people in Buffalo, New York, at the hands of an 18-year-old white man, who carried out the racist shooting broadcast live on Saturday in a supermarket.
Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020, after former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground with a knee to his neck as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.
Lane and Kueng helped restrain Floyd, who was handcuffed. Lane held onto Floyd’s legs and Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back. Thao prevented bystanders from intervening during the nine-and-a-half-minute restraint.
The state recommends a three-year sentence for Lane and has agreed to allow him to serve the time in federal prison.
Chauvin pleaded guilty last year to a federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights and faces a federal sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years.
Thomas Lane pleaded guilty Wednesday, May 18, 2022, to one state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the murder of George Floyd. As part of the plea deal, Lane will have one count of accessory to second-degree unintentional murder dismissed.
George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin after he was arrested in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020 on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill.
Lane, who is white, was sentenced along with Kueng and Thao on federal charges in February, following a month-long trial that focused on officer training and the culture of the police department.
All three were convicted of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care and Thao and Kueng were also convicted of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin during the killing, which was caught on video and sparked protests around the world.
Earlier this month, US District Judge Paul Magnuson who oversees federal civil rights cases in Floyd’s murder accepted the terms of Derek Chauvin’s plea deal and sentenced him to 20 to 25 years in prison.
Chauvin pleaded guilty on December 15 to violating Floyd’s civil rights and admitted for the first time that he kept his knee on Floyd’s neck after he became unresponsive, resulting in his death on May 25. of 2020.
The former officer admitted that he knowingly deprived Floyd of his right to be free from unreasonable seizures, including unreasonable force by a police officer.
Under the plea agreement, which Chauvin signed, both sides agreed that Chauvin should face a sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years, with prosecutors saying they would seek 25. He could have faced life in prison under the federal charge.
Chauvin is already serving a 22 1/2-year sentence for his murder conviction in state court last year, though he is appealing that conviction.
He is currently incarcerated under maximum security at the Minnesota Correctional Center in Oak Park Heights.
Chauvin would serve the federal sentence at the same time as the state sentence.
It is not yet clear whether Chauvin would serve his sentence in state or federal prison, but by signing the federal plea agreement, he requested a transfer to federal custody, according to ABC News.
Retired police sergeant Betsy Brantner Smith, a spokeswoman for the National Police Association, told DailyMail.com that federal prison would likely be a safer environment for the convicted former police officer.
Brantner Smith noted that former police officers convicted of crimes often face threats from other inmates behind bars, adding that Chauvin is “arguably the most famous former police officer in prison.”
“Federal prisons are generally nicer and safer than state prisons, so that might have been part of the thought process,” she said of Chauvin’s plea deal.
Brantner Smith said convicted murderer Chauvin “does not represent American law enforcement” and that he hoped the resolution of the case would represent a turning point in the community’s relationship with law enforcement.
“Now we can continue to pay Derek Chauvin’s debt to society,” he said. “From an American law enforcement standpoint, we’re certainly ready to move forward and do what we do best, which is protect the public.”
The federal plea deal means Chauvin will likely spend more time in prison than he faced under his state sentence alone.
State prisoners in Minnesota typically serve a third of their sentence on parole, which for him would mean 15 years in prison.
With good time credit in the federal system, Chauvin, who is 46, would serve 17 to 21 years and three months behind bars on the federal charges.
J. Alexander Kueng Quick and Facts
- As part of the plea deal, Thomas Lane will have a count of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder dismissed
- Lane, along with J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, has already been convicted on federal counts of willfully violating Floyd’s rights in May 2020 restraint
- Their former colleague, Derek Chauvin, was convicted earlier on charges of murder and manslaughter. He pleaded guilty last year and was convicted
- Chauvin ‘s federal plea agreement was accepted in May and he will serve 20-22 years in prison as opposed to a potential sentence of up to life behind bars
- Video evidence shows that the officers violated their training, including when they failed to move Floyd or give him CPR on May 25, 2020