Monday, November 9, 2009

Close call

It was a busy weekend for the Lincoln Police Department, with 1,281 dispatched incidents on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. A Nebraska home football game and perfect weather will do that.

The biggest event from the week was shortly before game time on Saturday, when one of our officers was sent to a disturbance in the northeast Lincoln apartment parking lot. He arrived to find two stolen cars pulled up alongside one another, heading in opposite directions. In the ensuing attempt by the drivers to get away, one fleeing vehicle struck a parked car then the driver's side of the officers cruiser. The officer had dismounted, and fired at the oncoming stolen car. The driver, wanted on misdemeanor warrant and felony warrants, was struck in the left arm. Despite being shot, he fled from the scene in the stolen car but was arrested a short time later at an address a couple miles away.

Without getting too far into the details of the case, here is what happens when a Lincoln police officer is involved in an incident where he or she discharges a firearm in a use of force situation. The Criminal Investigations Team conducts an investigation of the incident. Their job is to document the facts for any potential criminal charges. Their investigation revolves around interviews with the principals and witnesses, collection of physical evidence, and careful documentation of the scene. In this case, the driver was arrested for a variety of felonies. Further investigation is also underway to identify the driver of the second stolen car.

In addition to the investigation by the Criminal Investigations Team, the LPD Internal Affairs Unit also conducts a separate and distinct investigation. The purpose of this second investigation is to determine if the use of force by the officer complies with the department's policies. Internal Affair's job is to assess the facts and circumstances of the case against the standards established in General Order 1510-Use of Force, and report their findings to me.

In a case where an officer has shot a person, the officer will be placed on administrative leave for the next few days, which (in conjunction with his or her days off) will ordinarily provide Internal Affairs with about a week in which to conduct this review. While a longer period of time might be needed, I can never recall this being the case--perhaps because these are very rare events in Lincoln. After I receive information from Internal Affairs, I will make a decision on the officer's duty status.

Fortunately, the officer was uninjured from this harrowing event. I spoke with him last night, and despite being sleep deprived, he seems to be dealing with these events as well as can be expected. The suspect will recover from his wound, and will eventually be jailed when he is ready to be released from the hospital. This was a close call for all involved, but the positive result is that a felony and misdemeanor warrant apprehension occurred, and a stolen vehicle was recovered.


Anonymous said...

A decision to use the ultimate force is not an easy one. On TV guns are pulled on suspects often. I am yet to see one fired. Perhaps the producers of the cops episodes edit those occasions out.
This "shots fired" incident is one where the force being stopped was a motor vehicle. I think a shot has little chance of stopping the vehicle without taking the driver out.
In any case, the shot was right on. A good hit. It also sends a message to other drivers who may want to use a motor vehicle to run someone over. The charges would be better if attempted murder is filed.
The driver could say the he was only trying to cause injury. Such a charge could further promote the use of force that was used in this case. At about the same time of the incident,I was to pick someone up just a stones throw away from where this incident occured, but I was late. It is a good thing, being late. I was at home watching the breaders cup on TV. As another poster often writes,

Anonymous said...

I am glad the officer involved was not injured. Recently there was a mention in the LJS about a new technology in patrol cars that will be able to scan license plates and notify the officer if a vehicle has been reported stolen etc. Are those scanning devices in use yet? Was one used in this incident?

I was the victim of a motorcycle theft a few years back and I am in favor of anything that reduces that crime. I think it will make officers safer also by letting them know of the increased risk when confronting a motorist in a stolen vehicle.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

It's worth pointing out that the individual was recently the recipient of what should earn a nomination for "Generous plea deal of the year". All that and just some probation, talk about a wrist slap. Oh, and whenever you're listed here at age 18, it means your adult life is really starting off on the wrong foot.

Anonymous said...

I love how the media has used the word "allegedly" often in reporting this story and has constantly referred to the perp as a "teenager". Glad the officer was not hurt.

Trevor Brass said...

What a story! Who gets the honor of watching Mr. Hassenplug at the (undisclosed) hospital?

Kyle Larson said...

Gun Nut

I think I know the article your referring too and it's the State Patrol that has a couple license plate readers or whatever they might be called. There in unmarked vehicles from what I hear and they are really expensive units. I don't think LPD has any units like this, but I could be wrong.

Tom Casady said...

Gun Nut, Kyle-

We days away from launching. I blogged about it back in May.

Anonymous said...

10:39s "here" link shows "Reason for Release: WEC RLSE-REMOVE-PROGRM FAILURE"
Are they saying that he failed the program and was sent back out on the streets?

Zen said...

If he was 18, then in NE legally he still WAS a teenager. Majority in NE is 19 years of age, as many college kids find out when they come here for school from other states and are suddenly not adults, and as NE freshmen find out when they are living on their own and can't sign a contract because they are still minors.