Update from April 9, 2021:
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A day after the family of an autistic teenager who was hit by a Lexington Police car went before the Urban County Council and Mayor Linda Gorton demanding the release of police body camera footage and other details about the incident, police released the 911 call and the body camera footage. Note: There is explicit language in some of the body camera video that may be offensive to some viewers.
Police say Officer Nicolas Gray, who has been with the department since October 2015, was traveling approximately 40 miles per hour with his lights and siren on when his police car hit 19-year old Liam Long, who ran into street while trying to get away from Officer Caleb Wade, who was chasing after Long on foot, according to investigators and body camera footage. Officer Wade has been with the department since March 2017, according to police.
The body camera footage shows Officer Wade’s foot chase and from inside Officer Gray’s car when he hit Long, who was seriously injured. Police say Long had pulled a knife on Officer Wade prior to the foot chase and stated the officer would have to kill him first.
The following is the news release from the Lexington Police Department with the account of what it says happened in this case:
On Monday, March 29, 2021, around 6:59 p.m., an officer was dispatched to a business in the Gardenside area for a report of an individual threatening others. The manager of the establishment explained to the officer that an “erratic customer”, later identified as Liam Long, was upset because his gift card was not working properly. The manager was told that prior to this, Long had assaulted another customer in the business who had left before an officer arrived. After assisting Long with his gift card, the manager requested him to leave. While exiting, Long threatened to kill the manager upon Long’s return. A Terroristic Threatening 3rd report was completed for this incident.
On Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at 5:07 p.m., officers responded to the same business for a report that Long had returned and management did not want him present after the prior day’s incident. When officers arrived they were told Long had already left. Officers proceeded to circulate the area and located Long on Maywick Drive near Vicksburg Road where he acted erratically and hostile towards officers. Because of having previous contacts with Long, the officers recognized that he appeared to be having a mental health crisis. The officers reported Long was uncooperative and fled the area on foot after threatening to kill the officers. Knowing the home address of Long, officers did not pursue on foot and chose to go to that location to follow-up.
Within the same time frame as Incident #2, Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at 5:22 p.m., officers responded to the 2100 block of Larkspur Drive at the request of Long’s case worker. Long had stated he was going to do mean things to his case workers and made vague threats. Long also threatened bodily harm to one of the case workers, claiming to be part of the Mexican Cartel. The case worker explained that Long had been acting very strange.
When Officer Wade arrived, he made contact with Long in a parking lot on Larkspur Drive. When Long saw him he began saying, “No, no, you are not going to do this” then walked away from Officer Wade. Keeping a safe distance from Long, Officer Wade attempted to calm Long down stating he only wanted to talk. Eventually, Long turned around pulling a knife from his waistband. While holding the blade up in threatening manner to Officer Wade, Long stated that Officer Wade would have to kill him first. Officer Wade gave verbal commands for Long to drop the knife and continued to attempt to de-escalate the situation by telling Long he only wanted to talk. As the officers from the second incident arrived to assist, Long turned around and ran toward a fence.
Officer Wade explained that due to Long’s current mental state, verbal statements to the case worker, and making threats with the knife which was still in his hand, he felt Long was a danger to himself and others and needed Emergency Detention.
During the foot pursuit that ensued, Officer Wade gave verbal commands for Long to stop, in fear of Long being struck by a vehicle Officer Wade warned Long he was going to get hit as he crossed the street. Long entered the roadway directly in front of Officer Gray’s vehicle and was struck causing non-life threatening but serious injuries. Officers immediately began providing care for Long until Lexington Fire Department’s Emergency Care Unit arrived.
Viewer Discretion Advised:
- Just prior to the collision Body Worn Camera footage confirms the officer’s police vehicle was traveling approximately 40 mph.
- The officer DID have his emergency lights operating prior to, and at, the time of the collision.
- Due to the actions of Long entering the roadway Officer Gray was unable to avoid a collision. Officers immediately began rendering aid, called Emergency Care and continued care until their arrival.
In accordance with the Lexington Police Department’s policy General Order 2012-01C – the Collision Reconstruction Unit investigated this incident additionally, per CAO Policy, Officer Nicolas Gray has completed Critical Incident testing.
Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers has requested that the Kentucky State Police Critical Incident Response Team’s, Collision Analysis Section conduct an independent review of this incident.
Related Story: Family of autistic teen hit by LPD car seeking answers
Original story below from March 30, 2021:
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington Police say a teenager having a mental crisis was hit by a police car when he ran into the road while trying to get away from officers.
Investigators say around 5:19 p.m. Tuesday, March 30, 2021, officers responded to the Garden Springs area for a welfare check. A social worker called E911 and stated that a 19-year-old was having a mental crisis. Investigators say the teen was making verbal threats by phone to harm his case worker.
Police say when officers arrived the teen began making threats toward them while holding a knife and then took off running to get away from the officers.
Investigators say the officers chased the teen on foot and that’s when the teen ran into the road and was hit by another officer’s car as that officer was arriving on the scene.
Police say the officers immediately requested an ambulance. They say the teen was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police say the teen was going to be placed in Emergency Detention for his mental crisis.
According to policy, the officer who hit the teen had completed Critical Incident testing.
The Lexington Police Department’s Collision Reconstruction Unit (CRU) is investigating.
The teen’s name was not released.