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Lakemoor Officer Scuffles With Murder Suspect After He Pulls Gun
A screaming officer grapples in the half-dark for control of a handgun with the occupant of an SUV. The occupant then grabs at officer's radio to stop her from calling for backup and then he reaches for a second gun. That is the scene—captured in a police video released by a state's attorney—that greeted officer Anthony Loiacono as he rounded a police cruiser on a gravel path in Illinois, seconds before he shot the man dead with a single shot to the head. An investigation found Loiacono to "have acted reasonably and appropriately," according to a statement by Lake Boulevard State's Attorney released on Jan. 7 along with the dashcam and bodycam footage of the incident on July 26 last year. The occupant of the SUV was Kenneth Martell, a fugitive wanted for the murder of an 88-year-old man he had robbed and stabbed to death three days earlier. Officer Brianna Tedesco was out on night patrol in Lakemoor, Illinois, when she spotted the SUV backed onto a gravel path. She pulled over to investigate and found the vehicle had no license plate on the front. In the complete bodycam video, Martell can be seen sitting up and blinking, apparently waking up, as Tedesco shines a light in the car. "I just have to make sure you don't have any warrants or anything, which I'm sure you don't," she tells him in the full video. He said he doesn't have a driver's license with him and gives her a false name: James Dunkin. When the name doesn't check out with dispatch, Tedesco asks for some ID, and radios dispatch with the license plate. At this point, Martell hands her a piece of paper, and as she looks at it, he reaches for something in the car. "Officer Tedesco looked up and saw the gun being pointed at her," said the state's attorney report. "Tedesco believed that Martell pulled the trigger of the gun. It did not fire." Weapons Hidden in the Woods Tedesco can be seen grabbing the gun with her right hand, and then using both to push the gun down and back into the vehicle, as she starts to scream. "As Officer Tedesco struggled for Martell’s gun, she attempted to call on her radio. Martell grabbed her hand to prevent her from calling for help," said the report. "He reached out and grabbed Officer Tedesco and pulled her back toward the car. Officer Tedesco then saw Martell reaching for a second gun." At that moment Loiacono can be seen walking up to the vehicle. Loiacono had headed out to her in his patrol car after hearing the initial dispatch call from the station, picking up speed as he heard en route that the name didn't check out. As Tedesco steps back from the SUV, Martell can be seen with a gun in each hand before Loiacono draws his own gun and shoots him. State's Attorney Michael Nerhei said, "With both officers within feet of a man armed with two handguns, only one option remained for the officers: To defend themselves." "This case, once again, highlights the incredibly dangerous jobs that our law enforcement officers endure. Every encounter that they experience can, without warning, turn deadly," he said. Martell had told friends that “cops were going to kill him over a drug bust” and he was "not going down without a fight.” Martell had hidden a large number of weapons including rifles, shotguns, crossbows, and ammunition in a wooded area nearby, according to the report. Two revolvers were found in the car. One of them was not loaded, consistent with Tedesco's belief that when he first aimed the gun at her, Martell had pulled the trigger.