A federal judge sentenced one of the four Minneapolis police officers Thursday charged in connection with the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 to two and half years in prison for depriving Floyd of his civil rights.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Thomas Lane was found guilty by a federal jury earlier this year for depriving Floyd of his constitutional right that would have allowed him to be free from a “police officer’s deliberate indifference to serious medical needs” when he saw Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
The jury found that Lane’s failure to aid Floyd led to his death. Lane also pleaded guilty in May to one charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter of George Floyd.
“The tragic death of George Floyd makes clear the fatal consequences that can result from a police officer’s failure to intervene to protect people in their custody,” Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said. “Had this defendant and other officers on the scene with Derek Chauvin taken simple steps, George Floyd would be alive today.”
Clarke said Lane’s sentence should serve as a reminder that every law enforcement authority has a duty and obligation to protect people in custody.
U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger for the District of Minnesota said Lane knew that Floyd needed medical aid, but chose passivity rather than action.
“As a sworn law enforcement officer, he failed to uphold his duty to step in and save a man’s life,” Luger said.
While prosecutors initially requested Lane at least get just over five years in prison, Floyd’s family asked for the harshest possible sentence. However, the officer’s punishment falls on the lower end of federal guidelines.
The Associated Press reports Floyd’s brother, Philonise, called Lane “an accessory to murder” and the sentencing “insulting.”
Judge Paul Magnuson of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, who sentenced Lane, told him he violated the law because he didn’t get up and remove Officer Chauvin from an unconscious Floyd.
The jury also convicted the other former officers, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, of an additional charge of failing to intervene to stop former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Authorities said sentencing has not yet been scheduled for Thao, who held back onlookers during Floyd’s arrest, and Kueng, who pinned Floyd’s back during the restraint.