Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the plea deal with Lane on Wednesday, May 18. As part of the deal, prosecutors have dismissed the second-degree unintentional murder charge that Lane was also facing in relation to Floyd’s death.
Lane will be sentenced at a later date, but Ellison’s office and Lane’s defense attorney have recommended a sentence of just 36 months. Prosecutors also agreed that Lane will be allowed to serve his state sentence at a federal institution concurrently with the sentence he receives after being found guilty of violating Floyd’s civil rights earlier this year (Lane still hasn’t been sentenced in that case).
“Today, my thoughts are once again with the victims, George Floyd and his family,” Ellison said in a statement. “Nothing will bring Floyd back. He should still be with us today. 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. 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 lawyer did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment, though he said in a statement shared with CNN: “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. 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.”
Lane, along with Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, were all charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder in June 2020. Lane and Kueng both helped restrain Floyd while he was handcuffed, with Lane holding down Floyd’s legs at one point. In a video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s back, Lane was heard expressing some concern and asking whether Floyd should be rolled over onto his side, which Chauvin rejected. Neither Lane, Thao, nor Kueng tried to stop Chauvin as he murdered Floyd.
Thao and Kueng are still set to go to trial on the state charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. That trial is slated to begin on June 13.
Thao and Kueng, along with Lane, were also convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights back in February. Chauvin was also originally charged in the federal case but ended up pleading guilty as part of a plea deal. Chauvin is currently serving a 22-and-a-half-year sentence after being found guilty of murdering Floyd.