Bellevue, KY – Police in Kentucky successfully diffused a situation with an armed man on Wednesday, but are being criticized for leaving a rifle unattended while they subdued the suspect (video below).
“Dayton cops leaving there assault rifle unattended for kids to walk past,” neighbor Matt Haas posted to Facebook on Wednesday, along with photos and video of the weapon. “...this cop certainly needs more gun safety training and needs to go to class on proper procedure.”
The video of the incident has since gone viral.
Dayton Police Department (DPD) and Bellevue Police Department (BPD) administrators addressed Haas’ concerns on Thursday, and explained how the incident unfolded so the public could better understand the full scope of the situation, The River City News reported.
DPD received a call of a domestic violence incident at a residence, and were told that an intoxicated man had attacked his father before firing a gun into the air, police said.
The victim said that there were multiple weapons inside the residence.
DPD pfficers responded to the incident, and requested assistance from BPD.
Once on scene, BPD Officer Marc Chapman began conversing with the intoxicated gunman, and asked him to come outside so they could get him help, police said.
According to The River City News, who was invited to view Officer Chapman’s bodycam footage of the incident, the suspect begged Officer Chapman to put down his rifle before he would engage in negotiations with him.
The officer complied, and handed his weapon off to DPD Officer Brett Lockman.
"Normally, in a perfect world, you would walk back to your cruiser and put it in your car [but] he's not going to leave the suspect on the porch and walk back to his car,” BPD Chief Lee Estepp explained.
Officer Chapman continued to focus on the suspect, who had hit his father in the face repeatedly before vandalizing the home and firing his weapon.
The man told the officer that he was scared to go back to jail, and said he was struggling with alcohol abuse, and had lost his wife and job.
While Officer Chapman spoke with the man, Officer Lockman placed Officer Chapman’s rifle on the ground and leaned it against a vehicle. Officer Lockman then went to assist Officer Chapman, leaving the weapon unattended for several minutes.
The man was soon peacefully taken into custody. Haas’ video showed another DPD officer as he retrieved Officer Chapman’s weapon and secured it.
"Basically, Officer Lockman is a young officer, he's new to Dayton, and I think it was just a mistake," Chief Estepp said, calling the move “a rookie mistake.”
He added that he invited Haas to the station to watch the bodycam footage. Haas did not formally file a complaint against any of the officers, he said.
DPD Chief David Halfhill also addressed the oversight, and commended the officers for safely handling the suspect in what could have been a deadly encounter.
“Unfortunately during the course or the incident another agency’s patrol rifle was accidently set down when the officers were going hands-on with the suspect. Thank you to the neighbors for making this observance and bringing it to the officer’s attention," Chief Halfhill said.
"It is unfortunate that this incident happened, but we as police officers are human and do make mistakes,” he said. “We hold our police officers to a higher standard, and be assured that this mistake will be fully investigated."
Dayton city administrator Michael Giffen told The River City News that Officer Lockman will not be fired for his mistake.
"I consider Officer Chapman's actions to be commendable," Chief Estepp said. "I think he did an outstanding job diffusing a situation with a heavily armed subject in sight who did actually fire a weapon."
Watch Haas’ video of the incident below: