Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on Thursday for violating George Floyd‘s civil rights. Lane is one of four ex-officers convicted of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights during the violent arrest that led to his killing on May 25, 2020.
Lane, along with former officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, were found guilty of federal civil rights offenses in February. The convictions followed a trial that examined each of their parts in the unlawful restraint that killed Floyd and determined that they failed to act in accordance with both Minneapolis police protocol and the U.S. Constitution.
Jurors found that all three men “deprived Floyd of his constitutional right to be free from a police officer’s deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs when they saw him restrained in police custody in clear need of medical care,” the Department of Justice wrote in a statement announcing the convictions. This directly contributed to the physical injuries that caused Floyd’s death, the department said.
Kueng and Thao were also found guilty of violating Floyd’s constitutional right “to be free from an officer’s unreasonable force” by willfully failing to intervene as former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for roughly 9 1/2 minutes. Lane, who asked twice if officers should turn Floyd on his side while he was pinned to the ground, did not face that charge.
Chauvin was convicted on state charges of murder and manslaughter in addition to federal civil rights offenses for killing Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man and Minneapolis resident. A video recording that showed Floyd’s death, and the circumstances that preceded it, surfaced online soon after it happened and gave rise to nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. In the video, which lasted eight minutes and 46 seconds, Lane was seen holding Floyd’s legs while Kueng knelt on his back and Thao kept bystanders away.
Prosecutors indicated in a sentencing memo filed last month that Lane’s offense could warrant a prison sentence ranging from 5 to 6 1/2 years, citing federal guidelines. His attorney Earl Gray had asked for 27 months. Lane pleaded guilty in May to a state charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter and agreed to serve three years in prison. He has not yet been sentenced in that case.
Chauvin was recently sentenced to more than 20 years in federal prison, where he will serve federal and state sentences concurrently. Hearings for Kueng and Thao, who are expected to receive longer federal sentences than Lane, have not yet been scheduled. The state trial for both former officers was delayed until later this year.
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