Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Harrowing events

Yesterday morning at about 8:34 AM, Officer Chilton Leedom and Sgt. Mark Meyerson were dispatched to a northeast Lincoln home on a disturbance.  The caller’s 32 year-old son, who had been evicted on the previous day, was back at the house, pounding on the door and wanting to be let in.  Officer Leedom followed him into the back yard, as Sgt. Meyerson arrived. 

Officer Leedom drew his pistol as the man began pouring gasoline from a container onto the deck and back patio door of the home.  Then, as the officers attempted to talk him down, he tossed a lit cigarette onto the deck, and the back of the house went up in flames.  Screams were coming from the occupants inside, and the suspect’s feet, splashed with gas, were aflame. 

The officers pounced on the suspect and a protracted fight ensued.  I spoke with Sgt. Meyerson shortly after things were secured, and he described it as the longest fight he’s ever been in.  I know the feeling: a few minutes seems like an eternity when the fight is on, and failure to prevail means you lose your life.

In the meantime, Officer Shawn Kennett (the son of a retired Deputy Fire Chief) pulled up. He helped the officers finish securing the suspect, yelled at the occupants to evacuate through the front door, then gabbed a garden hose and started suppressing the flames.  Lincoln Fire & Rescue arrived and completed the job.
The suspect was checked out at the hospital, then jailed for Attempted Murder, Arson, and Resisting Arrest.  Remarkably, no one was significantly injured.  This was an incredibly harrowing event, brought to a successful conclusion by the fast action of the Northeast Team’s officers.  Great work barely begins to describe what took place yesterday on a quiet residential street near N. 57th and Francis Streets.


Yoni said...

I'm glad we have 911 and LPD. I'll try to remember this the Incident the next time something petty gets attention.

Thanks for being here when we need this kind of help.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the officers and your department. How terrible for those parents to have a 32-year-old son that would do something like that.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chief:

How do you feel about your officers turning on their lights to get through intersections on red lights then immediatley turning them off right after they're through said intersection. Or doing the same to a car so it pulls over, then driving on - again, promptly turning their lights off. It is obvious that there is no emergency, but rather they are abusing their power to get through intersections/past cars. I have actually been rear-ended by someone becuase an officer decided to do this at the intersection of 27th and Cornhusker, I quickly braked while I was in the middle of the intersection and then the car behind me rear-ended me. Of course, the officer drove off with his lights off. Surely you can understand the frustration this causes, and the citizens of Lincoln are noticing this happen... OFTEN!

If it was an emergency, shouldn't their lights be on until they are at the scene to alert drivers that they need to be on the lookout prior to entering an intersection?

I'm sure the comments section of your blog is not the appropriate place to post this concern, but it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Love reading the blog!

Thank you!

Frustrated Citizen

Tom Casady said...

Dear Frustrated Citizen:

Read my post on this topic.

If you have a time, date, and location, I'll be happy to do the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Frustrated Citizen:

There's no reason for police to break any traffic laws without lights and sirens; it creates too much risk to the public.

See here:

Anonymous said...

"It is obvious that there is no emergency, but rather they are abusing their power to get through intersections/past cars"

Oh, really. How is that obvious? Can you say that on every one of these occasions, you were fully aware of exactly why the officer was doing what they were doing? I find that very hard to believe.

Grundle King said...

Frustrated Citizen wrote "There's no reason for police to break any traffic laws without lights and sirens; it creates too much risk to the public."

Actually, yes there is. Lights and sirens create rubber-neckers, who create accidents.

Anonymous said...

"Frustrated Citizen" just shows how naive a lot people are in regards to law enforcement and law enforcement tactics.

Yeah, let's have the officers go full bore with their lights and sirens so the bad guy will get away, or worse, be ready for the officers when they arrive.

Today's post by the Chief is a perfect example of why an officer shouldn't telegraph his or her arrival.

Jason said...

Back on topic (I sure hate to detract from the congratulations these two officers deserve with piddly little things).

My hearty thanks to them for doing what others would not.

p.s. I think you meant "lose" and not "loose". Sorry to be the spelling patrol...but I'm sure you'd rather know than not. (feel free to take this last part out before approving)

Tom Casady said...


I can honestly say that during my long career, I can only recall one occasion where I saw an officer using his red lights to clear an intersection for an illegitimate purpose. He and I had words at the time.

I can also say that there have been many times when I have personally scooted through a signal with my lights/siren when I should have just waited for the green. It wasn't because I was trying to abuse anything at all, it was just not real good judgement given the relatively minor nature of what I perceived (at the time) needed a quick-but-not-quite-emergency response. The wisdom of age tells me that the 30 seconds off the response time wasn't as important as it seemed at the moment.

I'm willing to look into the circumstances, but like you, I imagine there is usually a legitimate reason--though maybe not a good enough one to run the risk of busting the light.

Anonymous said...

Gee if these Officers would have waited for the Green at all the intersections we could have 3 deaths that "Frustrated Citizen" could also blame them for. Let the Chief praise the work of his Officers without the negativity. I think there has been enough of that lately. An Frustrated Citizen the next time your butt is in trouble I hope the Officers Stop at each light, drive the speed limit, and stop for a potty break before they get there!!!

Thanks Chief for giving your Officers some praise. They saved the lives of 3 people (maybe 4 given that the fire starter set himself a blaze as well) and should be proud! They risked their lives and well being for others. Not because thats what they get paid for, but because they are willing to give their life for another. This is what makes them true Heros!

ARRRRG!!!! said...

Cops throw water on me all the time.

Steve said...

I've seen an LPD officer perform as described by Frustrated Citizen perhaps twice in my nearly 60 years in Lincoln. Is that "often"? Even then, I had no way of knowing their purpose. It certainly wasn't obvious that they were not hurrying to a situation that needed the attention of police. I'm not saying officers never abuse their "power" or perform their jobs below the level of performance expected of them. Police officers are humans like the rest of us, and some of them make mistakes or have poor judgement at times or just don't have the work ethic we'd hope they have. Still, I doubt many of them survive in the job very long if they routinely take advantage of their position or fail to perform as they should. Thanks to the Chief and other ethically minded officers for that.

Anonymous said...

I hope they run the lights if I need help. It seems those that have questions about this issue also have very little insight into what the LPD officers have to do. I would suggest an online video, a ride along portion video and some video of a few topics that have been on the blog. An LPD version of cops.
Also, the jail should make the book log public too. It would not be very time consuming to post one like the call list of LPD.

Anonymous said...

Frustrated Citizen:
Well, I wouldn't expect you to know, because you obviously have never been a Police officer. Many calls that initially sound "non-emergency" can quickly turn. For example, a loitering call at the 33-Holdrege Kwik Shop, was updated through dispatch 15 seconds later as a 100 person brawl, and 10 seconds after that update, it became a shooting. You never know- so that 15 seconds they weren't parked at a light waiting may have prevented a bad situation from evolving into a much worse situation. Just the same and argument becomes a fight, a disturbance/tresspass becomes an arson/attempted murder.... Weigh pros & cons.

Anonymous said...

Chief-Congrats to the Officers on this call for risking their necks to protect the public.

I have a couple of questions regarding some of the posts.

1. Do LPD officers carry non-lethal weapons such as tasers? Protracted fights are never good.

2. It was always my understanding that there is a liability issue if an officer proceeds through a red light without using lights and sirens. Any thoughts?

Thanks again to the men and women of LPD. Hope to see some of these names in the award section of next year's annual report. They deserve the recognition for a job well-done.


Anonymous said...

To Frustrated Citizen:

What is the most important tool an officer comes to work with every day?

Although officer are required to have many peices of equipment with them on a daily basis, an officer would be useless without this particular thing.

(This is not a trick question or a pot shot at you)

I will be waiting for your response.

Tom Casady said...


None of the officers at the scene had a TASER. We have about 20, but couldn't get a TASER-equipped officer there in time for that option. Sgt. Meyerson used his OC spray, but it did not have the desired effect.

Yes, violating a traffic signal without your emergency equipment is a major liability concern, and we always want our officers using their lights and siren when it is necessary to violate a traffic signal. There is one exception to this:

"When responding Code 3, officers may discontinue the use of a siren at the point where it might reasonably be audible at the scene of the incident, but only if the incident is of the nature that the sound of the siren would be likely to increase the hazard or risk at the scene. In such situations, emergency lights may be turned off at the point where they might reasonably be visible at the scene of the event."

With lights only, you must be extremely cautious moving through an intersection against the redlight, and in all cases you are required to come to a complete stop and check cross traffic before continuing.

Anonymous said...

OC spray, and TASERs as well, don't always work, especially on those who are really enraged, under the influence of certain types of substances, or of questionable sanity. Here's just one example.

Tom Casady said...


Also, it's not a good idea to use a TASER in the presence of flammable liquids....

Anonymous said...

"Also, it's not a good idea to use a TASER in the presence of flammable liquids...."

No kidding, spark plug, that wouldn't be good. So, you'd need about 300 more TASERs to issue one to every officer, and your unit cost on those is what, about 500 bucks? I bet you've got better ways to spend $150,000. Then you've got certification training, replacement cartridges, etc. Even then, you get lots of flak about using them from the usual detractors - as if they'd rather that you cracked them with a baton or just shot them instead (no, they'd triple the flak over that). Damned if you do, or don't.

Tom Casady said...


You are low on the per unit price, but otherwise, you've summed up the issue pretty well.

Anonymous said...

Chief-Thanks for your answers. To be clear, I wasn't trying to second-guess the officers on the scene regarding tasers, etc. I was just curious if you guys had them. I remember a couple of fights I was involved in that seemed like they would never end, and my biggest fear was being shot by my own or another officer's gun. I can think of several situations where stopping a suspect from escalating a situation by using a taser would be appropriate. I also understand the controversy and potential issues involved. It just seems like another optional tool that may prevent a suspect or an officer from being killed unnecessarily. From a cost standpoint, it's hard for me to place a number on the worth of preventing a funeral.


Anonymous said...

Coming from a rural area it bothers me when cops don't have lights and sirens on going to a accident. I realize that in a rural community there may not be many people at certain times, but the deer and animals could be a huge threat to an officer at high rates of speed. Always makes me nervous when I see officers with no lights and sirens on late at night. Last summer I believe, a Platte County Sheriff's officer was responding to a two vehicle injury accident. A semi didn't see him, and he pulled out right in front of him. A buddy of mine arrived a little later to find the most gruesome mess he's ever seen and I'm sure he won't forget. The officer struck the semi going over a hundred. He did have lights on, but no sirens. Hearing this made me think that they should really use sirens when going at that high rate of speed, any time of day. I'm sure the truck driver and family will never forget what happened that day.

Anonymous said...

The most important tool an officer comes to work with is.........a special blended cocktail of COMMON SENSE.
The gun, the car, the OC spray, the uniform; they are all great and useful tools, but would be ineffective if common sense and good decision making were not applied when using them. We all could use a little more common sense at times.

Anonymous said...

nice to see you are back to only posting facist comments that kiss your butt.

Anonymous said...

"nice to see you are back to only posting facist[sic] comments that kiss your butt."

No, he still posts a few semi-literate, drive-by comments from those whose "alma mater" is just North of 40th & Franklin.