Court filings shed more light on former officer Thomas Lane’s training
Court filings made public on Wednesday shed more light on former officer Thomas Lane’s training with the Minneapolis Police Department.
On May 25, Lane and J Alexander Keung were partnered together for the first time, according to the transcript of Lane’s interview with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
“That was only the second time working actually a squad with another officer," Lane said.
During the interview, investigators questioned the pairing.
Speaker 3: Is it common to partner officers right out of training together?
[Lane]: I don‘t know.
Speaker 3: Have you seen it before?
[Lane]: I’ve heard of it. Yeah. I think that might be something they do. And I think they said they want to put newer officers together just because.
Speaker 3: Sure. Okay. And the commanders make those decisions, you don’t?
[Lane]: We don’t. We just get assigned. When we walk in and they say, "This is who you ride with today and this is where you’re going."
Speaker 3: Okay. So how many times have you ridden with Kueng?
[Lane]: That was the only time.
The former officer was also asked about his training, including the four-month field training program following the academy.
Brent Peterson: Understood. At the end of your FTO training, is there an evaluation period?
Thomas Lane: A pending period, yep.
Brent Peterson: What is that?
Thomas Lane: You do 10 shifts as an able squad, where your FTO basically just rides on, and you can’t ask them any questions. They don’t do anything. They’re there as backup for you. You handle all of the calls. You work the radio and computer. You drive. You do everything.
Brent Peterson: Okay. Is your FTO in a uniform?
Thomas Lane: Yep.
Brent Peterson: For that 10 days?
Thomas Lane: Mh-hmm (affirmative).
Brent Peterson: Okay. But you can’t use them as a resource unless it’s an emergency or something?
Thomas Lane: Yeah, they’re there only for safety and basically you’re supposed to think of it like you’re riding along.
According to Lane, he could ask other officers for help. He told investigators he reached out to Derek Chauvin during his training as a resource, saying “he had given me advice on how to best handle a call, and best handle the situation.”
The limits on interactions between an officer and his or her field training officer concerns use-of-force expert Timothy Williams Jr.
“Why do you have a person in there in the car in a mummified position where you can’t ask them questions and you have to call someone else to assist you in the call when you have a partner sitting right there? That doesn’t make any coherent sense at all,” Williams said.
“I’ve handled cases all across the country," he added. "This is the only agency that I have read about that does something like that. I’ll call it what it is: That’s stupid.”
Williams spent nearly 30 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. He is now the CEO of T.T. Williams, Jr., Investigations, acting as an expert in both state and federal court cases.
“There’s a lot of things that could’ve been done that weren’t done,” Williams said. “It did not have to end like this.”
When Chauvin arrived at the scene, Lane and Kueng had been trying to get George Floyd into their squad car unsuccessfully.
“[They should have] taken a different approach,” Williams said. “You get a supervisor to the scene. A lot of times a supervisor can deescalate a situation … or the supervisor could’ve said, ‘Sit him on the curb.’ Then he will look at it and say, ‘Take a report, book the money, we’ll let the detectives handle it. We know who Mr. Floyd is, we know where he lives, and we’ll do a crime report.’”
Documents show Lane suggested using the maximal restraint technique. Chauvin asked if he had his restraint, a hobble device, which officers then looked for.
Williams explained how it works.
“You put this nylon hobble on them and they’ll be crossed ankles and secured and then when you get it in place, if they’re on the ground, prone on the ground, you get them on their side or sit them up as soon as you can,” he said. “There’s an issue of positional asphyxiation that’s in play.”
Williams told us, “If a person is resisting and they’re kicking, that’s when it’s used.”
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked Williams if the technique was needed in this situation, based on the struggle the officers were describing.
“No, not from what I’ve read,” he said. “They should know what’s going on based on the training they’ve received. There is policy that talks about this.”
According to MPD policy and training documents filed by Lane’s attorney Earl Gray, the technique should only be used in situations where someone in handcuffs is combative and a threat to themselves or others.
The documents also define chokehold as a deadly force option where direct pressure is applied to a person’s trachea or airway. A neck restraint is considered a non-deadly force option where an officer compresses one or both sides of a person’s neck but does not apply direct pressure on an airway.
The policy outlines the mechanics of a neck restraint, specifically saying that the trachea and airway need to be protected.
According to another slide, when someone is in handcuffs, "place the subject in the recovery position to alleviate positional asphyxia."
When Lane couldn’t get the hobble device on Floyd, he said "we just kind of pinned him."
Williams does not believe the restraint was needed.
“He was claustrophobic. They could’ve got him out of the car and set him on the curb,” Williams said.
“They’re not resisting, they’re just struggling to breathe,” he said. “It’s like when a person is drowning and you’re going out and rescuing them. They’re not fighting you, they’re just trying to fight to survive.”
Williams said that from the beginning the officers should have investigated the validity of the $20 bill before attempting an arrest.
“You have got to use common sense when you’re conducting a preliminary investigation,” he said.