MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A former Minneapolis police officer pleaded guilty on 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 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.
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.
Lane is scheduled to be sentenced on the state charge on 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. 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.