A judge sentenced Thomas Lane to three years on Wednesday (September 21) for aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. The state charge stems from Lane’s involvement in the 2020 murder of George Floyd. According to reports, Thomas was the former Minneapolis police officer who pinned George’s legs to the ground.
Lane’s sentencing was expected this month after he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge in May. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dismissed the “abetting second-degree unintentional murder” charge. A conviction for unintentional murder carried a mandatory 12-year sentence.
However, it looks like Thomas will only spend about three years total behind bars. Judge Peter Cahill also ruled on Wednesday that Lane will serve his state sentence concurrently with his federal sentence.
If Lane receives credit for good behavior on either charge, he’s likely to get out even earlier.
Thomas Receives Sentence For Violating George Floyd’s Civil Rights
In July, Thomas was sentenced to 2.5 years for violating George Floyd’s civil rights. Judge Paul Magnuson called Thomas’s role “a very serious offense in which a life was lost.” But, he still proceeded to lowball the sentence, despite prosecutors’ request for at least five years. As a result, Thomas began serving the federal 2.5-year sentence at a Colorado facility on August 30.
As part of Wednesday’s ruling, Judge Cahill granted Thomas 31 days already served. The former cop also won’t have to pay restitution.
Like Lane’s federal sentence, Judge Cahill also lowballed the state sentence. According to the Associated Press, the three-year sentence for aiding and abetting falls “below the sentencing guidelines.” Still, Judge Cahill stuck with the three-year sentence the prosecution and defense teams settled on.
Meanwhile, evidence from the civil trial and court documents shows Thomas attempted to intervene in Derek Chavin’s deadly restraint. Lane asked twice to re-adjust George’s legs and body, but Derek objected. With only four days on the job, Thomas followed Derek’s superior commands.
Still, Thomas admitted in May that he helped Derek restrain George in a way that created an unreasonable risk. Additionally, Lane admitted that he heard George say he couldn’t breathe, recognized when George became silent, had no pulse, and appeared to lose consciousness.
George Floyd’s Family Speaks At The Sentencing
According to CNN, Lane did not speak in court on Wednesday. However, Judge Cahill and George Floyd’s family discussed the future beyond this case.
“I think it was a very wise decision for you to accept responsibility nad move on with your life,” the judge said while acknowledging that Floyd’s family hasn’t been able to move on.
Part of the reason Thomas pleaded guilty was to negotiate what he got in terms of a dismissed unintentional murder charge and serving his sentences concurrently. Not only that, Minnesota law makes it possible for him only to serve two-thirds of those sentences. These factors matter to Lane because, per his attorney’s former words, Thomas “has a newborn baby and did not want to risk not being part of the child’s life.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, George’s family made it clear where they stand in a victim impact statement read by prosecutor Matthew Frank.
“Talk about move on? Wow. Really? Me and my family would love to move on, but there’s just not a lot of accountability,” the statement said. “We will always show up for George Floyd, but never move on.”
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