Thomas Lane pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, announced Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday.
Because of the plea deal, a charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder was dismissed, a spokesperson for Ellison’s office said.
In response to the guilty plea. Ellison released a statement.
“Today my thoughts are once again with the victims, George Floyd, and his family. Nothing will bring Floyd back. He should still be with us today,” Ellison’s statement read.
“I am pleased Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death. His acknowledgment he did something wrong is an important step toward healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community and the nation,” he continued. “While accountability is not justice, this is a significant moment in this case and a necessary resolution on our continued journey to justice.”
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said that his client made the decision that allows him to be part of his child’s life.
“The State prosecution has a mandatory 12-year sentence if convicted of the unintentional murder. My client did not want to risk losing the murder case so he decided to plead guilty to manslaughter with a three-year sentence, to be released in two years, and the murder case dismissed,” Gray said. “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 did not want to risk not being part of the child’s life.”
As EBONY previously reported, Lane along with Kueng and Thao were convicted in a federal trial in February of violating Floyd’s civil rights. Additionally, Kueng and Thao were convicted of failing to intervene and stop fellow Officer Derek Chauvin from using excessive force.
Chauvin was found guilty of second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He also pleaded guilty last year to a federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
He faces a federal sentence of 20 to 25 years.
The Floyd family’s attorneys, Ben Crump and co-counsel Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms, said Lane’s guilty plea “brings the Floyd family another step towards closure for the horrific and historic murder of George Floyd.”
“While this plea reflects a certain level of accountability, it comes only after Mr. Lane was already convicted by a federal jury on a related charge,” the team said Wednesday in a statement. “Attorney General Keith Ellison, all of the state and federal prosecutors, the brave men and women who served on the state and federal juries, and the community compelled this result. These individuals and many more should be commended for their efforts leading towards today.”
“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,” the statement continued.