Ex-Minneapolis officer pleads guilty in George Floyd killing
This photo provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on June 3, 2020, shows Thomas Lane. Lane former Minneapolis police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday, May 18,2022 to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. (Photo: AP)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 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, admitting that he intentionally helped restrain the black man in a way that created an unreasonable risk and caused his death.

As part of Thomas Lane's plea agreement, a more serious count of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder will be dismissed. Lane and former Officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have already been convicted on federal counts of willfully violating Floyd's rights. While they have yet to be sentenced on the federal charges, Lane's change of plea means he will avoid what could have been a lengthy state sentence if he was convicted of the murder charge.

The guilty plea comes a week before the two-year anniversary of Floyd's May 25, 2020, killing. Floyd, 46, died after Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground with a knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe. The killing, captured on widely viewed bystander video, sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the globe as part of a reckoning over racial injustice.

Lane, who is white, and Kueng, who is Black, helped restrain Floyd, who was handcuffed. Lane held down Floyd's legs and Kueng knelt on Floyd's back. Thao, who is Hmong American, kept bystanders from intervening during the 9 1/2-minute restraint.

All three are free on bond; the state trial scheduled for June is expected to proceed for Kueng and Thao.

Lane is scheduled to be sentenced on the state charge September 21.

In his plea agreement, Lane admitted that he knew from his training that restraining Floyd in that way created a serious risk of death, and that he heard Floyd say he couldn't breathe, knew Floyd fell silent, had no pulse and appeared to have lost consciousness.

The plea agreement says Lane knew Floyd should have been rolled onto his side — and evidence shows he asked twice if that should be done — but he continued to assist in the restraint despite the risk. Lane agreed the restraint was "unreasonable under the circumstances and constituted an unlawful use of force."

The state and Lane's attorneys agreed to a recommended sentence of three years — which is below state sentencing guidelines — and prosecutors agreed to allow him to serve that penalty at the same time as any federal sentence, and in a federal prison. One legal expert said this would appeal to Lane because he would have less chance of being incarcerated with people he had arrested.

Lane, who is white, told Judge Peter Cahill that he understood the agreement. When asked how he would plead, he said: "Guilty, your honor."

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login

HOUSE RULES

  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy