21 July 2022

Ex-police officer Thomas Lane sentenced over George Floyd killing

21 July 2022

Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on a federal civil rights charge for his role in the killing of George Floyd.

US district judge Paul Magnuson sentenced Lane on Thursday for his February conviction of depriving Floyd of medical care as he lay dying under now-former officer Derek Chauvin’s knee in May 2020.

Lane, who has been free on bond, did not speak at the hearing. Magnuson ordered him to surrender to US marshals on October 4.

The killing of Mr Floyd, who was black, sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the world over racial injustice in policing, and launched a national reckoning on race.

(He) did nothing to give Mr Floyd the medical aid he knew Mr Floyd so desperately needed

Lane, who is white, held Mr Floyd’s legs as Chauvin pinned Mr Floyd for nearly nine-and-a-half minutes. Two other officers, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, were also convicted of violating Mr Floyd’s civil rights and will be sentenced later.

Federal prosecutors had asked for a sentence of up to six-and-a-half years, in line with federal guidelines.

Lane’s attorney Earl Gray asked for a little over two years, arguing that Lane was the least culpable of the officers in part because he had asked his colleagues twice whether Mr Floyd should be turned on his side.

Philonise Floyd, one of Mr Floyd’s brothers, called it “insulting that he didn’t get the maximum amount of time.”

He said Lane was “an accessory to murder” and said he thinks “the whole criminal system needs to be torn down and rebuilt”.

Brandon Williams, a nephew of Mr Floyd, said he was “angry and fed up”.

Lane testified at trial that he did not realise how dire Floyd’s condition was until paramedics turned him over.

Prosecutor Manda Sertich countered that his expressions of concern showed he knew Floyd was in distress but “did nothing to give Mr Floyd the medical aid he knew Mr Floyd so desperately needed”.

When Lane pleaded guilty in state court in May, Mr Gray said Lane hoped to avoid a long sentence. “He has a newborn baby and did not want to risk not being part of the child’s life,” he said.

Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin addressing the court in Minneapolis in early July (Court TV via AP/PA) (AP)

Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty to separate federal civil rights charges in December in Floyd’s killing and in an unrelated case involving a black teenager. That netted a 21-year sentence when he appeared before Judge Magnuson two weeks ago, toward the low end of the range of 20 to 25 years both sides agreed to under his plea deal.

Chauvin was already serving a 22-and-a-half-year state court sentence for second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. His federal and state sentences are running concurrently.

Minnesota corrections officials have kept Chauvin in solitary confinement in the state’s maximum security prison for his own safety, given his notoriety. He has not yet been transferred to the federal prison system.

Judge Magnuson has not set sentencing dates for Thao, who is Hmong American, and Kueng, who is black. But he has scheduled a hearing for Friday on objections by their attorneys to how their sentences should be calculated under the complicated federal guidelines.

Prosecutors are seeking unspecified sentences for them that would be lower than Chauvin’s but “substantially higher” than Lane’s.

Thao and Kueng are free on bond pending sentencing. They have turned down plea deals and are scheduled to go on trial on October 24 on state charges of aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox