MINNEAPOLIS — A former Minneapolis police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to a 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 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 during the May 2020 restraint that led to the Black man's death.
The state is recommending a sentence of three years for Lane and has agreed to allow him to serve the time in a federal prison.
Their former colleague, Derek 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. Chauvin earlier was convicted of state charges of murder and manslaughter and sentenced to 22 1/2 years in the state case.
Lane's plea comes during a week when the country is focused on the deaths of 10 Black people in Buffalo, New York, at the hands of an 18-year-old white man, who carried out the racist, livestreamed shooting Saturday in a supermarket.
Floyd, 46, died May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck, as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Lane and Kueng helped to restrain Floyd, who was handcuffed. Lane held down Floyd’s legs and Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back. Thao kept bystanders from intervening during the 9 1/2-minute restraint.
Lane, who is white, was convicted along with Kueng and Thao of federal charges in February, after a monthlong trial that focused on the officers' 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.
After their federal conviction, there was a question as to whether the state trial would proceed. At an April hearing in state court, prosecutors revealed that they had offered plea deals to all three men, but they were rejected. At the time, Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said it was hard for the defense to negotiate when the three still didn't know what their federal sentences would be.
Kueng, who is Black, and Thao, who is Hmong American, also scheduled to go to trial in June on state charges.