A former Minneapolis officer was sentenced to 2-1/2 years in prison on federal charges stemming from his role in the killing of George Floyd, a black man whose death sparked protests around the world against racial injustice, a court spokesperson said.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson sentenced Thomas Lane in a federal courtroom in St. Paul on charges that he had deprived Floyd of his civil rights and caused Floyd‘s death during an attempt to arrest him.
Magnuson also ordered Lane to be placed on supervised release for two years after he serves his time in prison, a public information officer told Reuters.
Floyd’s family called the sentence “insulting” and implied that Lane got a lighter sentence because he was white.
“I think that it’s insulting that he didn’t get the maximum amount of time because to me, if it was me, and that was accessory to murder, they would’ve gave me the maximum amount of time,” George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, said outside the courthouse following the sentencing. “And you’re a police officer who was sworn to protect, who took a oath, and you didn’t get the maximum amount of time.”
During the trial Lane’s lawyers argued that he had done “everything he could possibly do to help George Floyd,” by suggesting that Floyd be repositioned to his side so he could breath. Video shows that Chauvin ignored his suggestion. Lane was also the officer who performed CPR on Floyd until medics arrived.
Magnuson told Lane that these efforts were not enough, saying that the fact that he didn’t physically remove Chauvin from kneeling on Floyd’s neck was “a violation of the law.”
Lane, 39, was one of four officers who were called to a Minneapolis grocery store on May 25, 2020, and tried to take Floyd into custody on suspicion that he used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
During the encounter, the senior officer on the scene, Derek Chauvin, pinned the handcuffed Floyd‘s neck to the ground with a knee for more than nine minutes, causing his death.
In February, Lane, along with two other former officers, Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng, were found guilty by a federal jury for their involvement in Floyd‘s death. No date has been set for sentencing Thao and Kueng.
During the trial, federal prosecutors argued that the three men knew from their training and from “basic human decency” that they had a duty to help Floyd as he begged for his life before falling limp beneath Chauvin’s knee.
Earlier in July, Chauvin was sentenced to 21 years in prison on federal charges of violating Floyd‘s civil rights.
Chauvin also was convicted of intentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in a state trial in 2021. He is serving a concurrent sentence of 22-1/2 years on that conviction.
In May, Lane pleaded guilty to state aiding and abetting manslaughter charges and agreed to a sentence of three years in prison. A state trial is scheduled to be begin in January for the other two officers.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters