Former Minneapolis officer Thomas Lane pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of George Floyd

A former Minneapolis police officer has pleaded guilty to one state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

As part of Wednesday’s plea deal, Thomas Lane will have one count of accessory to second-degree unintentional murder dismissed. Copies of documents related to the guilty plea can be found below.

The state recommends a sentence for Lane of three years, which is below state sentencing guidelines, and has agreed to allow him to serve time in federal prison.

He is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Sept. 21 on the state charge.

Wednesday’s hearing was broadcast on Zoom for members of Floyd’s family.

Lane, along with J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, have already been convicted on federal charges of violating the civil rights of Floyd, who was black.

After his federal conviction, there were questions about 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 were turned down. At the time, Gray said it was difficult for the defense to negotiate when the three did not yet know what their federal sentences would be.

Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, was in the courtroom for Lane’s plea hearing. When asked if his client would also accept a plea deal, he replied “No comment.”

His former colleague, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of murder last year and pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation.

Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison in the state case.

Full coverage of KSTP

Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, made the following statement Wednesday:

“The state attorney’s office has a mandatory sentence of 12 years if convicted of unintentional murder. My client did not want to risk losing the murder case, so he decided to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter with a 3 year sentence, to be released in 2 years, and the murder case was dismissed. The sentence will be concurrent with his federal sentence and he will serve his time in a federal institution. He has a newborn baby and he didn’t want to take the risk of not being a part of the child’s life.”

Earl Gray Lawyer

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also contacted Thomas Plunkett, who represents Kueng. Plunkett said he is not publicly discussing his client’s case at this time.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison released the following statement in response to the guilty plea:

Today my thoughts are once again with the victims, George Floyd and his family. Nothing will bring Floyd back. He still he should be with us today.

I am pleased that Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death. His acknowledgment that he did something wrong is an important step in healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community and the nation. While accountability is not justice, this is an important moment in this case and a necessary resolution in our continued journey toward justice.

– Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison

Attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci, and Jeff Storms also released the following statement in response:

Today’s guilty plea by former Officer Thomas Lane gives the Floyd family another step toward closure on the horrific and historic murder of George Floyd. While this statement reflects a certain level of responsibility, it comes only after Mr. Lane has already been convicted by a federal jury on a related charge. Attorney General Keith Ellison, all state and federal prosecutors, the brave men and women who served on state and federal juries, and the community forced this outcome. These individuals and many more are to be commended for their efforts leading up to the present. Hopefully, this plea helps usher in a new era where officers understand that juries will hold them accountable, just as they would any other citizen. Perhaps soon, officials will no longer require families to endure the pain of lengthy court proceedings where their criminal acts are obvious and apparent. It is equally critical that municipalities that are responsible for employing, training, and supervising their officers take their duties to the community very seriously and hold their own officers accountable to a criminal court that is required to do so. While today is a step in the right direction, we only need to look at the recent tragic murder of Amir Locke to understand that the city of Minneapolis has a long journey ahead of it to regain the trust of its citizens.

– Attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms

The state trial of former officers Kueng and Thao is scheduled to start on June 13.

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