State's attorney: Lakemoor cop acted in self-defense when he killed murder suspect
A Lakemoor police officer acted in self-defense when he fatally shot a Pennsylvania man who was armed and struggling with another officer on a rural road in late July, officials said in a report released Wednesday.
In the report, Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim said the actions of Lakemoor officers Briana Tedesco and Anthony Loiacono "were masterful and indicative of two people acting in self-defense." Nerheim added the officers were "within feet of a man armed with two handguns" and that "only one option remained for the officers: To defend themselves."
Kenneth Martell, 36, was wanted in Pennsylvania for robbing and killing 88-year-old Theodore Garver when Tedesco, a one-year police veteran, spotted Martell's black SUV backed in and parked on a gravel driveway on the west side of Four Seasons Boulevard about 5 a.m. July 26, Nerheim's report states.
Martell was "napping" in a reclined position when Tedesco came upon the vehicle. Martell awoke and told the officer his name was "James Dunkin," but he was without identification, the report states.
Tedesco radioed in the information about the name and vehicle, then broadcast her location to Loiacano, the report states.
When Martell gave a piece of paper to Tedesco, she heard a noise inside the SUV and saw "Martell was looking down at the inside of the driver's door," the report reads.
"Mr. Martell reached out the window and pointed a handgun directly at Officer Tedesco," the report reads. "Officer Tedesco believed that Martell pulled the trigger of the gun. It did not fire."
Tedesco struggled with Martell and the gun, yanking and pushing the gun away from her, the report reads. She also tried to call out on her radio, but Martell grabbed her hand to block the radio call.
During the struggle, Martell grabbed Tedesco and began pulling her toward the car while he reached for a second gun.
Loiacono, a 14-year police veteran, arrived, heard Tedesco calling for help and ran to the SUV, the report reads. Tedesco was able to pull away just as Loiacono fired a single round that hit Martell and knocked him back into the seat.
Loiacono unlocked the car and opened the door and found two handguns. Dispatchers were notified of the officer-involved shooting, and an ambulance was requested, the report reads.
Autopsy results indicated Martell died from a gunshot wound to the face.
During the investigation, officers uncovered a large number of weapons, including rifles, shotguns, crossbows and ammunition near the shooting scene, the report reads. Accompanying the weapons were court documents in the name of Kenneth Martell.
Police also found stolen property and identification of Garver, whose body was recovered in a Beaver Township pond three days before the Lakemoor officer-involved shooting.
"This case, once again, highlights the incredibly dangerous jobs that our law enforcement officers endure," the report reads. "Every encounter that they experience can, without warning, turn deadly."