Even after the arrest of Thomas Kiernan Lane, 37, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, gathering information about him is still a challenge. One of the details about him revealed by his heavily redacted personnel files was the volunteer work that he did for Somali youth.
Lane completed his education not in the traditional way. He did not graduate from high school but he went on to get his general educational diploma (GED) and earn an associate degree from Century College, a two-year community and technical college in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
The Minneapolis Police Department hired Lane on February 19, 2019 and fired him on May 26, 2020 for his involvement in the fatal arrest of George Floyd along with his former colleagues Derek Michael Chauvin, 44, Tou Nmn Thao, 34, and J Alexander Kueng, 26. Lane was accepted to the police academy in January 2019 and graduated as a police cadet in March 2019.
Before joining the Minneapolis Police Department, Lane attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology.
Aside from being a law enforcement officer, Lane was also an educator. He served as a volunteer for Ka Joog, a nonprofit that aims to enrich the lives of Somali American youth through education, mentoring, employment and the arts.
Through Ka Joog, Lane tutored young Somali refugees in Cedar Riverside, Minneapolis. As a mentor, the University of Minnesota alum helped at-risk elementary school students with reading and homework.
It has yet to be confirmed if Lane tutored Somali youth while he was studying at the University of Minnesota or while he was working as a Minneapolis Police Department officer. Before his arrest, one of his relatives described im as a “compassionate and amusing and insightful” person in an interview with the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Almost three years prior to Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis Police Department also made headlines because of the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. On July 15, 2017, the 40-year-old Australian-American woman was fatally shot by Mohamed Noor, 34, the department’s first officer of Somali descent.
Noor is a Somali refugee. Born in Qoryoley, Somalia, he lived in a refugee camp in Kenya with his family before they eventually moved to the U.S., particularly in Minneapolis.