Ex-Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane will avoid trial next month thanks to a guilty plea issued Wednesday in connection with George Floyd's May 25, 2020, death. The Star Tribune reports Lane pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter and will be handed a three-year sentence. That's less than what state sentencing guidelines call for, reports the AP. The state sentence will be handed down in September and served concurrently with the yet-undefined federal sentence.
Ex-officers Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng will face trial next month on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death; the count of aiding and abetting second-degree murder that Lane faced was dismissed as part of the plea deal. If Lane had been convicted of that dismissed count, he would have faced a mandatory 12-year sentence, reports CNN. As Lane's lawyer puts it, "He has a newborn baby and did not want to risk not being part of the child's life." A former defense attorney calls Lane's deal a "very sweet" one and tells the AP he would expect Thao and Kueng have been made the same offer, and that it's likely at least one of them would take it.
As for Wednesday's outcome, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison had this to say: Lane's "acknowledgment he did something wrong is an important step toward healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community, and the nation. While accountability is not justice, this is a significant moment in this case and a necessary resolution on our continued journey to justice." Lane was new to the job when he and Kueng responded to a call involving Floyd's use of a counterfeit $20. They helped Derek Chauvin hold Floyd facedown on the ground, with Lane holding his legs. (Read more George Floyd stories.)