(ST. PAUL, Minn.) — Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in a federal court on Thursday morning for violating George Floyd’s civil rights.
Lane, 39, is one of three former Minneapolis police officers who were convicted earlier this year of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care as the handcuffed, unarmed 46-year-old Black man was pinned under the knee of their senior officer, Derek Chauvin, for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020. Floyd’s videotaped killing in Minneapolis sparked anti-racism protests and calls for police reform across the United States and around the world.
Under federal probation rules, assuming good behavior, this sentencing would result in only two years in prison.
Lane’s former Minneapolis police colleagues, 28-year-old J. Alexander Kueng and 35-year-old Tou Thao, were also convicted of failing to intervene to prevent Chauvin, 46, from applying bodily injury to Floyd. Lane, who was heard on video twice asking his fellow officers whether they should turn Floyd onto his side, did not face that charge. Chauvin knelt on the back of Floyd’s neck, while Kueng knelt on his back, Lane held his legs and Thao kept bystanders away.
During their trial in February, Lane, Kueng and Thao each took the witness stand and attempted to shift the blame to Chauvin, who was a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department. Lane told the jury that Chauvin “deflected” all his suggestions to help Floyd, while Kueng testified that Chauvin “was my senior officer and I trusted his advice” and Thao attested that he “would trust a 19-year veteran to figure it out.”
The jury handed down convictions after deliberating for roughly 13 hours.
Magnuson has not yet set sentencing dates for Kueng and Thao.
Lane faces a separate sentencing in state court on Sept. 21, after changing his plea to guilty to a reduced charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the top charge against him of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder, according to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Thao and Kueng, who have rejected plea deals offered by prosecutors, are scheduled to go on trial in state court on Oct. 24 over charges of aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Earlier this month, Chauvin was sentenced to 21 years in prison on separate federal civil rights charges in Floyd’s killing and in an unrelated case involving a Black teenager. He had already been sentenced to 270 months, minus time served, which equals about 22 1/2 years in prison, after being convicted in state court last year of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
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