Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane sentenced to 2 1/2 years in George Floyd killing

Thomas Lane was convicted of violating George Floyd's civil rights.

July 21, 2022, 3:43 PM

Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane was sentenced to 2 1/2 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.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson to sentence Lane to between 5 1/4 to 6 1/2 years behind bars, while Lane's attorney had asked for 2 1/4 years.

Under federal probation rules, assuming good behavior, Lane's sentencing would result in only two years in prison.

PHOTO: George Floyd is pictured in an undated photo released by the office of Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump.
George Floyd is pictured in an undated photo released by the office of Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump.
Courtesy Ben Crump Law

Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, expressed disappointment with the judge's decision to only give Lane to 2 1/2 years.

"I think it's insulting that he didn't get the maximum amount of time," Philonise Floyd told Saint Paul ABC affiliate KSTP on Thursday, after the sentencing. "The problems still are going to exist until we take the corruption out of these courts."

George Floyd's nephew, Brandon Williams, was also critical of the sentencing, saying Lane performed CPR in the ambulance but not while Floyd was still alive, even though he knew what to do.

"I'm angry and fed up," Williams told KSTP on Thursday.

In a statement released after the sentencing, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division said Floyd's death makes clear the fatal consequences that can result from a police officer failing to intervene to protect people in their custody.

"Had this defendant and other officers on the scene with Derek Chauvin taken simple steps, George Floyd would be alive today," Clarke said. "This sentence should send a message that protecting people in custody is the affirmative duty and obligation of every law enforcement officer, regardless of one's rank or seniority."

PHOTO: Former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng in a combination of booking photographs from the Minnesota Department of Corrections and Hennepin County Jail in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng in a combination of booking photographs from the Minnesota Department of Corrections and Hennepin County Jail in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Minnesota DOC and Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via Reuters

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.

PHOTO: In this June 25, 2021, file image taken from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin addresses the court at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.
In this June 25, 2021, file image taken from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin addresses the court at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.
Court TV via AP, Pool, FILE

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.

ABC News' Kiara Alfonseca, Bill Hutchinson, Janel Klein, Whitney Lloyd, Mark Osborne and Stephanie Wash contributed to this report.

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