Vernon Hills police release tapes of shooting at station
Vernon Hills officials have released videotapes of the April 3 shooting in the lobby of the police station in which a Mundelein man was wounded after displaying a realistic-looking but fake handgun.
The views from different cameras in the station show Howard R. Lazarus, 53, of the 0-100 block of North Bristol Court, Mundelein, entering the station, engaging in conversation with an officer, displaying the handgun and then being shot. One view ends when paramedics arrive to tend to Lazarus, who had a handwritten note in his pocket saying he was dying from cancer and "couldn't do the deed myself."
The unidentified officer fired twice. One shot hit Lazarus in abdomen and the other shattered two glass doors in the lobby.
Lazarus was hospitalized but released April 12 and taken to the Lake County jail. He was charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer and remained jailed Wednesday as he was unable to post the required 10 percent of $100,000 bond.
Authorities say Lazarus had walked into the Vernon Hills police station on Lakeview Parkway about midnight and asked to meet with an officer regarding a traffic accident.
Police Chief Mark Fleischhauer said the tapes were released because an independent review of the shooting by the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force and the Lake County state's attorney's office cleared the officer.
"In essence, the case is closed regarding the officer," Fleischhauer said. The officer, a 14-year veteran, returned to duty Tuesday night, he added.
"This is actually a fairly straightforward incident, there's not a lot of missing pieces," he said.
No significant changes have been made at the station or in procedures, Fleischhauer said, although the subject is under review. Police command staff Wednesday had a round-table discussion of what went well or poorly, for example, and other details.
"It's very difficult to do anything differently," he said. "You'd have to turn your building into a fortress."
However, had Lazarus been homicidal and had the gun been real "the outcome could have been entirely different," Fleischhauer said.
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