2 officers injured in training

January 18, 2019 GMT

Two Fort Wayne police officers were seriously injured during a training session on the lateral vascular neck restraint, a doctor who evaluated the men said Thursday.

Dr. Bill Smock, police surgeon at the Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky, said he traveled to Fort Wayne to examine the officers Tuesday after he was contacted by the Allen County prosecutor’s office.

Smock said both officers suffered serious injuries and that one officer’s family is calling his injuries a stroke. The officers were injured Monday, Smock said.

Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed will discuss the situation during a news conference today. The police department announced Wednesday it had temporarily stopped using the lateral vascular neck restraint, or LVNR, because of potential safety concerns, but did not mention the two officers in a statement.

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Smock led a training seminar on different types of restraint and the lasting effects of strangulation, including stroke, in Fort Wayne in September.

LVNR is a technique in which pressure is put on the carotid artery to cut off blood to the brain in an effort to render a person unconscious, Smock said. 

A close relative of Capt. Tom Bandor, 58, one of the injured officers, said Bandor is still in the hospital. “He gets dizzy and nauseated, even if he opens his eyes,” said the relative, who asked not to be identified. “It’s like vertigo. He can’t get up and do anything.” 

LVNR is not a choke hold that implies obstruction of the airway, Fort Wayne police Sgt. Jim Seay said Wednesday when police announced they were suspending the technique.

However, Smock, who is also on staff at the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention in San Diego and chairman of the institute’s medical subcommittee, said the LVNR has been banned in many cities, except for lethal or deadly force encounters.

On the institute’s website, there are recommendations for law enforcement, including when to use carotid vascular neck restraints and that during training, no pressure should be applied to an officer’s neck  “because you run the risk of injuring the carotid artery or breaking off pre-existing plaque that has built up in the neck that can cause a stroke,” Smock said.

Smock also recommended that if officers use a vascular neck restraint, suspects on whom the technique is used should be cleared at a hospital with a CT scan with an angiography prior to being booked at jails.  

Smock said he has investigated strokes and deaths associated with LVNR use, including a police officer in Louisville who sustained a massive stroke during LVNR training in 2015. He died in 2017 of a heart attack, Smock said, and was off work seven months because of the stroke. The police department banned the training and use of the LNVR except in lethal force encounters, Smock said.

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During training, “they don’t put any pressure on the officer’s neck during training, but do show positioning,” Smock said.

Ron Galaviz, spokesman for the Indiana State Police, said “we do show the maneuver in our recruit class,” but declined further comment.

Contacted Thursday, the prosecutor’s office referred all questions to the Fort Wayne Police Department.

jduffy@jg.net