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Ex-officer Thomas Lane sentenced for manslaughter in George Floyd killing

Sept. 21, 2022 Updated Wed., Sept. 21, 2022 at 5:52 p.m.

Thomas Lane.  (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office/Hennepin County Sheriff's Office/TNS)
Thomas Lane. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office/Hennepin County Sheriff's Office/TNS)
By Kim Hyatt Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS – Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane was sentenced to three years in prison in Hennepin County District Court for his role in George Floyd’s killing more than two years ago.

Lane, who is already serving a 21/2-year sentence at a Colorado federal prison for violating Floyd’s civil rights, appeared in a virtual court hearing Wednesday. He pleaded guilty last May in Hennepin County District Court to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in exchange for the three-year sentence, to be served concurrently with his federal sentence.

Judge Peter Cahill opened the hearing by allowing prosecutors to read a victim impact statement on behalf of the Floyd family.

“Here we go again,” said prosecutor Matthew Frank in reading the written statement. “I’m sure that’s what many are thinking but here’s a reminder: My family never asked for this. No one wants to be a victim of a crime. It’s truly unwanted and involuntary. How many more times will me and my family give a victim impact statement? As we are here today for the sentencing of former officer Thomas Lane, I just want to take a moment and try to recite the last unwanted and involuntary two years of me and my family’s lives.”

Frank said that the plea agreement relied upon the transcript from Derek Chauvin’s trial to assess Lane’s role in the offense and determine whether there is a basis to depart from sentencing guidelines.

“Mr. Lane had played a somewhat less culpable role in the commission of the offense. And more specifically, there were moments when Mr. Lane tried to change what was going on that day, initially trying to de-escalate the situation with Mr. Floyd, and even calling attention to maybe some better way to handle it,” Frank said.

“Those are different than what the others at the scene did,” Frank added. “While those may make his conduct less culpable, they of course, do not relieve him of all responsibility, because they simply were inadequate to stop the excessive and unlawful subdue and restraint that ultimately led to Mr. Floyd’s death.”

Lane’s attorney Earl Gray asked for a concurrent state sentence to the federal sentence Lane is already serving for violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Lane declined to make any comments Wednesday from the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood, a low-security federal prison camp in Littleton, Colorado.

On May 25, 2020, Chauvin, Lane and ex-officers J. Alexander Kueng knelt on Floyd while Tou Thao prevented bystanders from intervening during the unlawful restraint.

Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and received a 22½-year state sentence last year. He also pleaded guilty to a federal count of violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Kueng and Thao were convicted on federal civil rights charges and sentenced to three and 3½ years. They have state trials slated for next month.

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