Ex-police officer pleads guilty to manslaughter in George Floyd’s death

Rachita Salian
Rachita Salian
3 Min Read

A former Minneapolis police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the murder of George Floyd.

As part of the plea deal, Thomas Lane will have one count of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter dismissed. Mr. Lane as well as J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have previously been convicted on federal charges of willfully violating Mr. Floyd’s rights during his subduing that led to his death in May 2020.

Their former colleague, Derek Chauvin, pleaded guilty last year to a federal charge of violating Mr. Floyd’s civil rights and faces a federal sentence of 20 to 25 years. Derek Chauvin had previously been convicted of murder and manslaughter and later sentenced to 22½ years in prison in the state case.

Mr. Lane’s plea comes during a week when the country is focused on the deaths of ten black people in Buffalo, New York, at the hands of an 18-year-old white man, who committed last Saturday a racist shooting in a supermarket which he broadcast live.

Nine and a half minutes

Mr. Floyd, who was 46, died on May 25, 2020, after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pinned him to the ground with one knee on his neck. The black man repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, a phrase that has become a symbol of anti-racism activism.

Thomas Lane and Alexander Kueng helped hold Mr. Floyd to the ground, who was handcuffed. Mr. Lane held down George Floyd’s legs and Mr. Kueng knelt on the victim’s back. Mr. Thao prevented passers-by from intervening during the detention which lasted nine and a half minutes.

Thomas Lane was found guilty, along with Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, of federal charges in February, after a month-long trial focusing on officer training and police department culture. All three were found guilty of depriving Mr. Floyd of his right to medical care. MM. Thao and Kueng were also found guilty of failing to intervene to arrest Derek Chauvin during the murder, which was caught on camera and sparked protests around the world.

After their federal sentencing, the question arose as to whether the state trial would proceed. At an April hearing in state court, prosecutors revealed they had offered plea deals to the three men, but they were turned down. At the time, Mr. Lane’s lawyer, Earl Grey, said it was difficult for the defense to negotiate when the three still did not know what their federal sentences would be. Mr. Kueng, who is black, and Mr. Thao, who is Hmong American, are also due to stand trial in June on state charges.

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