The family of Thomas Lane, one of the four Minneapolis officers accused in the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, has set up a website where they hope to collect donations that would go towards his defense fund.
Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American truck driver, died in police custody after Lane and his fellow officers, Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng responded to a store in southern Minneapolis on May 25 on reports of a “forgery in progress.”
Darnella Frazier, a witness at the scene, filmed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes even as the 46-year-old begged and pleaded for his life and repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” He then became unconscious and unresponsive and was declared dead later the same evening.
Following widespread protests, nationally and internationally, Lane, Thao, and Kueng were all arrested and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, as well as aiding and abetting manslaughter. They are charges that carry the maximum punishment of up to 40 years in prison.
However, the family for Lane, who is currently being held on a $1 million bond, has insisted that he was one of the officers who was trying to de-escalate the situation and have asked for financial help for his defense.
In a website they set up specifically for the purpose, they argued that Lane had done everything in his power and authority to save Floyd’s life that fateful day and that he was the one who had suggested to Chauvin that they roll him over on his side.
They also said Lane had called for an ambulance before the 46-year-old lost consciousness and that, when it did arrive, he “did not hesitate to jump into the Ambulance where he started performing CPR to try and save George Floyd’s life.”
The family argued that the only reason he could not do more was the chain of command — Lane had reportedly been a rookie who had earned his license in August last year and was on just his fourth day as an officer when Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the force, knelt on Floyd’s neck.
Similar arguments for Lane’s innocence had been made by his lawyer Earl Gray during an arraignment hearing this past week.
“What would your state of mind be if you work your rear end off to become a cop and four days on the job, you’re accused of murder?” he asked the court, before insisting Lane did not aid the murder.
He also pointed out that the officer could be heard several times asking about rolling Floyd over due to concerns for his well-being, only for Chauvin to say no. “You’ve got a 20-year cop on the front and my guy’s back there with four days,” Grey said. “‘Shall we roll him over?’ and he says ‘No, we’ll wait for the ambulance’ twice. And then he says he’s suffering from a delirium? I don’t know what you’re supposed to do as a cop.”
He said Lane was concerned about Floyd but was overruled by his superior officer. “If three cops are trying to restrain somebody and one doesn’t agree, well that one cop should go beat up the other two cops and let the guy go? That’s absurd!”