A former Minneapolis police officer, Thomas Lane, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a second-degree manslaughter charge in the death of George Floyd in 2020, Minnesota’s attorney general said.
“I am pleased Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death,” the attorney general, Keith Ellison, said in a statement. “His acknowledgment he did something wrong is an important step toward healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community, and the nation.”
Mr. Lane, 39, had been scheduled to go on trial on June 13 with two other former officers, J. Alexander Kueng, 28, and Tou Thao, 36, on charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in Mr. Floyd’s death.
In a separate case, the three former officers were found guilty of federal crimes in February for failing to intervene as another officer, Derek Chauvin, killed Mr. Floyd by pressing his knee on his neck for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020.
John Stiles, a spokesman for Mr. Ellison, said Mr. Lane entered the guilty plea on the state charge in front of Judge Peter Cahill of Hennepin County District Court, who set a sentencing date for Sept. 21. State prosecutors and Mr. Lane’s defense have jointly recommended a three-year prison sentence, he said.
Now that Mr. Lane has entered the plea, the June 13 trial will go ahead without him, because the state dismissed Mr. Lane’s second charge, Mr. Stiles said.
“We are still full speed ahead on the trial for both charges” of the other defendants, Mr. Stiles said.
Mr. Lane’s lawyer, Earl Gray, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Lane, who has a newborn baby, “wanted to be a part of the child’s life” and did not want to risk possibly losing the murder case.
“After a lot of soul-searching that is what we decided to do,” Mr. Gray, said, referring to the guilty plea. It will be served concurrently with his federal sentence, for which there has not been a date. Mr. Lane would serve two years of the 36-month sentence, Mr. Gray said.
Mr. Lane’s guilty plea on Wednesday was a “significant moment” in the case, Mr. Ellison said.
“Today my thoughts are once again with the victims, George Floyd and his family,” he said. “Nothing will bring Floyd back. He should still be with us today.”
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.