Chandler police officer Dan Lovelace responded to a priority one call, forged prescription in progress, on October 11, 2001 at approximately 3 p.m. He was the first officer to arrive at the scene on his motorcycle and he parked his bike in front of Ms. Nelson, the suspect who was in the outside drive-through bay of a Walgreen’s pharmacy (Officer Lovelace could tell that Nelson was engaged in conversation with the pharmacist and did not feel parking his bike in front and blocking her was unsafe at that moment). He approached Nelson and politely asked for identification. She said she had none, although her purse was clearly visible in the seat. He then told her his purpose and said that he thought that this matter would be cleared up shortly, but that he noticed that her license plate was down as he approached her car (clearly giving him more information that she was involved in this crime). He asked that she remove the keys from her ignition and place them on the dash, which she did. He then went to the back of the car to put her license plate up. As he did so and was calling in the plate number, and began walking back toward the driver’s side in the empty bay. Nelson put the keys in the ignition, and started her car. Lovelace ran to the front of the median, i.e., the forward left fender of her car and ordered her to cease this activity. She then moved forward and he again continued his police commands. She then ran into his bike and took a sharp left turn into Lovelace, leaving approximately 29 feet of rubber. Lovelace believed he was being compressed into the building and the planter and unfortunately decided he had to shoot to stop this lethal threat. He aimed for center mass and fired. Nelson was killed almost instantly and her car decelerated to a approximately 5 miles per hour where Officer Marty Thompson’s arriving vehicle came in contact with it, fully stopping it. Lovelace raced after the car and called in “shot fired, run medics, one shot to the chest”. Then Lovelace opened the door to remove Nelson to perform CPR, he noticed that his shot had not entered her chest but actually had entered slightly to the rear of her upper left arm.
Maricopa County Attorney, Rick Romley, came to the hasty conclusion that this was a “bad shoot” and hired an outside ballistics expert. This expert was given misinformation and came to the erroneous conclusion that Lovelace could not have fired the shot as he had relayed it (Lovelace had given a thorough taped interview on the evening of October 11, 2001 and had conducted a taped walk-through with the other officers).
Romley went to the Grand Jury, obtained an indictment and arrested Officer Lovelace. An hour or so later he held a full press conference telling the public of what a fabulous job he had done for this community.
Fortunately for Lovelace, he was a member of the Chandler Law Enforcement Association, which had an agreement with the Legal Defense Fund to defend officers accused of crimes while on duty. LDF retained our office to represent Lovelace. Our first tactic was to point out to the judge what a slanted/faulty job the prosecution had done in presenting their case to the Grand Jury. The trial court agreed and remanded the case, ordering that the county attorney hold a second grand jury investigation. The county attorney did so and the second grand jury refused to indict.
Romley was not satisfied with that conclusion and filed direct information with the trial court, again charging Officer Lovelace with second-degree murder. A jury trial was commenced in May 2004 and a verdict was rendered on July 9, 2004, acquitting Lovelace of second-degree murder and the lesser-included offense that the prosecution had requested of manslaughter. He was also acquitted of endangerment as Nelson had her 18-month-old son in the backseat of her car. To mount this defense, the Legal Defense Fund authorized our office to hire the necessary experts. Without them a viable defense would have been virtually impossible. We were allowed to hire and have testify at trial the following experts:
Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, a world-renown expert on eye witness testimony and memory. Dr. Loftus has written numerous books and articles on the fallibility of memory for over 30 years.
Dr. Vincent DiMaio, the chief medical examiner of Bexar County, San Antonio, Texas and the author of Gunshot Wounds, the bible in that area.
Dr. William Lewinski, an expert in biomechanics and a behavioral scientist that focuses on police performance in lethal force encounters.
Dr. Paul Michel, a forensic optometrist providing expert opinions and legal testimony regarding human vision.
Tim Pebler, an accident re-constructionist. A former Arizona Highway patrolman who had left the patrol to attend engineering school and then devote the rest of his career to accident reconstruction.
Mike Bumcrot, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff’s detective who has investigated over 100 officer involved shootings and has 34 years of police service, 22 in the homicide bureau.
Jan Spaeth, a jury consultant expert who was able to allow us to conduct jury focus groups and to help in jury selection.
Atheia Hardt, a media consultant.
The jury deliberated for 2¾ days before reaching their unanimous verdict. In addition, the two alternate jurors let us know that they also would have voted not guilty.
The atmosphere in police shootings is becoming more and more hostile. Clearly this case had political overtones. The high publicity makes it even more difficult to defend as the media typically takes a slant against the officer. The prosecution tried to take a situation that developed in seconds and analyze in detail why things went “wrong”. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated 63 years ago, “Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife.” This was a hard fought victory and without the help and support of LDF, the outcome may well have been different.
PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.
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I have had (2) two cases in which LDF represented me. Both lawyers were exceptionally professional, intelligent and caring for me. They were friendly and very helpful.
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- Adam Laird Eureka POA
Dear PORAC Legal Defense Fund, This email has been weighing on my heart and should have been sent a long time ago. However, time seems to move fast even though your life has been put on hold. I have been on administrative leave since December of 2012. In April of 2013, I was arrested for the performance of my duties. Since the administrative side this case has not been resolved, I won't be getting into specific details regarding my case. However, I will say that I never thought that my life would turned upside down by doing the job that I love, and doing it in a way that I had been trained. I have been in Law Enforcement for 10 years, and I have been paying my monthly dues all along. I never really understood how important paying dues might be for me, I just thought it was the "cost of business". After being arrested, I understood the real worth of that investment. Because of politics, my case was given the "full court press". On January 3rd of 2014, the case against me was dismissed. It took no less than 5 experts to convince the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office to request dismissal. The time, effort, and money that this case cost couldn't have been endured by me as the sole provider of a family of four. LDF was there, big time. The panel attorney's under LDF were the best in the business. In the uncertain time during the criminal process, I couldn't have imagined how much help they could be. What a relief to know that LDF had my back. I am used to defending those who can't defend themselves. That's my job. When I was defenseless, LDF and the attorneys assigned to my case were my advocates and defenders. I thank you. My criminal attorney said it best at the conclusion of my criminal case: "Adam and his family are thankful that they can now move forward. The evidence showing Sgt. Laird was innocent was overwhelming. The expert EPD hired said that the suspect was rising up when Sgt. Laird pushed him back to the ground. The two experts that the DA’s office hired said that the force was reasonable and appropriate. The defensive tactics instructor who trained Adam said he acted consistent with his training in apprehending a high risk suspect in a dangerous situation. In total, five separate police practices experts reviewed the case and unanimously said Sgt. Laird acted appropriately". "It is hard to imagine what it must be like to risk your life apprehending a known gang member only to be charged with using excessive force when the suspect stated that he did not even feel the contact at issue. It is simply bizarre that Sgt. Laird was ever charged with a crime". Thank you. My family and I will forever be grateful for your service, Sergeant Adam Laird
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Thank you for your services.
- Ernest Marugg San Diego Deputy DA Association
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Thank you for all your help!
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Keep up the good work.
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As always... an excellent result.
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He did a great job for me!!! He always returned my phone calls within 24-hours. He showed an interest in my case and we were able to get the issue resolved in less than 45 minutes. Thank you for being there when I needed the legal assistance.
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It was great comfort to know somebody would be there for me in this matter. I was able to finally sleep @ night & wake up with confidence that I would be ok. Thanks.
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Thank you for your help. I feel very secure as you assisted me.
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Those who foolishly feel LDF is not a valuable resource, do so only because they have not yet needed legal representation.
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The attorney assigned to my case was GREAT! It's sad, but it's impossible to be an officer in today's world without a defense fund like PORAC LDF. I am now retired and signed up for the retired officers CCW LDF. Thanks!
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Very satisfied with the LDF services provided. Thank you.
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26 years and I have never needed a LDF rep, but the one time you need one, it was worth the fee’s paid.”
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I am very happy with the service I received from LDF. I am grateful that our association includes LDF as part of our dues.
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Excellent service everytime.
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The charges against me, if sustained, would have likely ended my LE career. I was rightfully exonerated on all charges. I was well represented by [My Representative] and thank him for a job well done!!
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Outstanding service from bottom-to-top.
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This was my first Internal Affairs investigation, my lawyer walked me through every step and answered all of my questions, without my lawyer's advice, I would have been lost throughout the investigation and a complete disadvantage against my department.
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They did a great job!
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Thank you for all of the work related to my officer involved shooting case.
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I felt I was represented in a thorough and professional manner.
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[My Representative] truly is an exceptional attorney. He has always represented me with honesty and compassion. Well Done.
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Very well informed group.
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Very helpful program. Helped keep department personnel focused on the issue regardless of their personal issues.
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[My representative was] very quick to respond, helpful and professional. Thank you!
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Everything went very smooth and they handled everything! Thank you.
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I feel that I was very well represented by the LDF regarding a fatal officer involved shooting. Both attorneys assigned to assist me - our guild attorney plus a criminal defense attorney - were very aggressive and helpful. Their work was instrumental in helping me to navigate the criminal and internal investigations so that I could return to full duty status.
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Thank you for your help.
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Can’t say enough. Both representatives that I had in 2016 were excellent. ( My attorney ) made himself available to me in late night hours, which made me feel comfortable and at ease. This program is essential to us in law enforcement.
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My LDF rep was great, always returned my calls quickly and kept me up to date with what was going on with the case. Thank you.
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Keep up the Good Work! Your service was extremely helpful to me. Thank you.
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- James F. Beland Lake County SDA
- Toinie Lee Jackson Madera Co DSA
Unfortunately, I have been placed in the position to use LDF several times in my career. Without their valued services, I would not be here to write this. I and my family thank you.
- Rich Stepper Montana PPA
[ My representative ] was very knowledgeable regarding dept & legal rules regarding officer involved shooting. Provided good legal advice & was very supportive.
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Outstanding [law firm] - incredible firm. And, LDF was easy to work and correspond with.
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Don't go to work without LDF!
- Oliver Sansen Concord POA
In 14 years I have never had to deal with an "IA." [My representative] was wonderful & put my mind at ease throughout the entire process. Thank you!
- Carl Miller Clearlake POA
- Dan Lovelace Chandler LEA
Thank you for the funding and support. I would be in jail right now if it were not for LDF. I would not have had the funding to pay for the case. It was a tremendous help having [my representative] and his support team and the many experts supplied by LDF. I speak for myself, my family and other members of my association.
- Wendy Morrow Chico Public Safety Association
I had never been through an I.A. in my 21 years. I was scared and ashamed and humiliated. ( My attorney ) was excellent. He helped me through one of the worst times of my life. Had great outcome and I am grateful.
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I have held leadership positions in our POA most of my career. Because of my role as President and Vice President I have been a target to management. I feel that if it were not for LDF I wouldn't have a job
- Raymond Fisher Colorado State Patrol Assn
I have known for sometime that PORAC would provide the services I needed at the time I needed them. This is a professional competent organization prepared to handle the appropriate legal matters our officers face in today's environment.
- Sean Tinney Berkeley PA
[My representative] was very attentive to my case and thorough with his investigation. I would request [him] again in the future.
- Joseph A. Henderson Merced POA
The firm I used was very valuable to my career and kept me updated as to status of the case. Thank you!
- Joseph Barrett LA Airport POA
I was very well represented by a professional. I felt well represented and got great advice.
- Miguel Masso Oakland POA
[I'm very satisfied and grateful] for LDF representing me. My attorney was professional, honest, and very knowledgeable of his profession. During these tough times my attorney would contact me on a regular basis to see how I was doing. This was obviously not part of his job description, but it kept me at ease and not losing my mind. I'm thankful that I was represented by LDF.
- RIchard Okeson Hesperia USD POA
I can't express how satisfying and comforting it was to have such a well qualified and pleasant attorney at my side. Thank you so much for everything you did for me, and if you can, please thank [ my representative] again for being there for me.
- Doug Plumhoff Ridgecrest PEA
Great job by all! Always great to know LDF is there when needed.
- Gary Silva East Bay Region Parks POA
Thank you for providing this service. My experience with LDF was very much to my satisfaction.
- Rodd N. Joseph Clearlake MMA
I appreciate the fact that my representative met with me in a social setting prior to the interview, during which time she learned the facts of the case. She was prepared for the interview. She seemed to have a genuine interest in my case.
- Anthony Zack Vernon POA
This was the first time in my twenty-five year career that I had to use the services of my legal defense fund. My LDF Representative was extremely courteous, informative and professional.. She addressed all of my concerns and answered all of my questions. She did an overall outstanding job of representing me and handling my case. I could not have been any more pleased or satisfied with the job she did! I would definitely request her to represent me in the future if I needed representation.
- Robert Hartman Contra Costa Co DSA
Quick response, experienced and knowledgeable attorney which assisted in every step. [My representative] kept me apprised through the process. Thank you.
- John M. Laser Oceanside POA
[My representative] always took my calls or returned them within hours. Put my mind at ease and kept me well informed. LDF is well served by this law firm!
- Erick Gaunt Palos Verdes POA
- Joe Charvez Santa Clara Co DSA
I could not be happier with the interest, work put into my case, and assistance from [my representative]. Thanks !!
- Christopher Wells Hollister POA
My rep was great.
- Christopher Connally Assn of LEA
To whom it may concern: Let me start by saying how much I appreciate the opportunity to join the PORAC Legal Defense Fund. This is a great benefit for our membership. During the past twelve months I was fortunate to have access to the Legal Defense Fund through MPCA. Earlier this year I was both surprise, and disappointed, when realized that I needed to provide counsel to mediate pending litigation. In accessing the Legal Defense Fund I found your staff to be very professional and reassuring. The staff felt that [my representative]., would be the best ft for the situation. I would like to take the opportunity to express my appreciation for being represented by [Rick Barry]. Not only was he a good fit for the circumstances, at times it seemed as if he was the only attorney out of several involved that really had a grasp on the issues. Again, I would like to thank the PORAC staff, and know that I could not have been better served than by what was provided by [my representative].
- Kim Jasper Alhambra POA
Excellent service, prompt and courteous.
- Micheal Chad Heiser Santa Rosa POA
LDF is a valuable resource that no law enforcement officer should be without.
- Nancy Page Aurora PA
I didn't end up needing his service but he was awesome in what conversations we had before the matter was resolved. Very valuable - LDF!
- Kenneth S. Blonski East Bay Regional Parks PMA
I was very pleased with my representative.
- Kevin Hullquist Siskiyou Co. Correctional POA
[My representative] did a good job representing me. Kept me informed.
- Brad Young Oakland POA
[ My representative ] is an awesome attorney.
- Alex Camarillo LASchool P A
[My Representative] did an excellent job with my case. He was very professional and kept me well informed throughout this case. Thank you for an awesome job.
- Evelyn Hooks Shasta CO PPOA
Thank God for the L.D.F.
- Michael Kan Palo Alto POA
I have always been and will continue to be a strong supporter of LDF and would not work as a police officer without it. I am extremely happy with the service I have received both from LDF and [my representative].
- Robert Glock Oakland POA
I am always satisfied with LDF and all their representatives.
- Jorge Garcia San Joaquin Co Corr Officers
No criticism to give. Very well.
- Rick Stephens Alpine CO DSA
My representative was very good. I highly recommend my lawyer to anyone.
- Nicholas Belliveau Sebastopol POA
High quality service, proficient, well informed. Overall, very happy with experience.
- Greg Harman Kensington POA
[My representative] is the best!!
- Heather Fontes San Joaquin Co POA
I appreciated the thorough follow up by LDF staff. Many thanks and blessings for the work by LDF.
- Kelly K. Roe San Joaquin Co Corr Officers
[My representative] did a fantastic job at returning my phone calls and keeping me informed of any and all information pertaining to my case. I would recommend him to anyone.
- James Beckman Miracosta College POA
Highly recommend this program for any LEO!
- Christopher Wirth A F G E Border Patrol
LDF referred me to [ representative ] in Spokane, WA. [ Representative ] did an outstanding job representing me. Thank you very much for the referral ! I would not be employed any longer had it not been for [ representative ] and his legal team.”
- Melissa Geraci Oakland POA
This is my 1st time using LDF and was very pleased with the service I got. [My representative] was so friendly & always returned my calls & even called to update me without provocation.
- Ken Burbank Shasta Co DSA
[ My representative ] was professional, articulate and prepared, but most importantly he understood the emotional impact the investigation was having on me as a person and peace officer. I highly recommend [my representative].
- Patrick Beggs Fresno Co DSA
Good service. Thank you.
- Tyler Robins Pasadena City College POA
At a time when no one cares about you it's nice to have someone on your side who does. (My attorney ) made a stressful six months a lot more tolerable.
- Matthew Gardner Colorado PPA
I would not want to be an officer without this coverage. It was great to have it and kept my mind at ease.
- Grace Castro AFGE Local 2455 – Laredo, TX
My representative was very kind and showed he cared when explaining what my legal rights were when dealing with an internal investigation.
- Robert Mickschl SAN DIEGO HARBOR P O A
From my initial call to LDF, to my "Thank You" email to (my attorney ) I had the best representation I could have hoped for. The "800" number call receptionists were very professional & understanding. (My Attorney's) office & staff kept me informed & updated. I am forever thankful to LDF & exceptional representation by ( my attorney ) & staff.
- Gregg Palmer San Joaquin Co Corr POA
Everything was explained very well prior to my questioning. I was not worried at all during the investigation. Very professional and a great asset to its members.
- Brendan Tinney UC Berkeley POA
[My representative] has represented me twice now and both times I have been very pleased with his thoroughness with handling my cases. I appreciate all what LDF and [my representative] have done for me.
- Christopher M. Fuzie Modesto POA
I was very impressed with the speed at which the case was handled. Thank you!
- Craig Caches Fremont POA
I have only used LDF once for myself, which with the circumstance was great. I work with LDF in my assignment ( OIS investigator ) and after approximately 4-5 OIS's, I have great experiences with LDF.
- William Jackson Santa Maria POA
Keep up the great work.
- Tia Dixione Inglewood POA
My representative was very helpful and informative.
- Anthony Russo Clark Co School District
The members of my Association are very pleased with the level of representation that PORAC has given to us. As the President I can not thank you all enough.
- George Fierro El Monte POA
I am a firm believer that LDF serves an essential part in the assistance to protect an officer's POBR & in the integrity of an investigation or complaint. I highly recommend the law office of [My Represenative].
- Billy Aldridge Chico POA
[My representative] was awesome! He provided an excellent explanation of the process and was very professional. This was my first IA in 11 years of LE and [my representative] did a great job of reassuring me that I had nothing to worry about. Thank you so much for all your help.
- Patricia Goss San Anselmo POA
[My Representative] is fabulous! Thanks for all the exra work she did for me!
- Melvarene Hayes LA Airport POA
They were there when I needed them and my whole case was handled on the phone. I met my representative after my case closed and he was at our union meeting when I had the pleasure to meet him and thank him in person.
- Marco Flores Ventura County PPOA
Great program. I was lost until the attorneys explained the situation. I was very impressed and satisfied. Thanks LDF.
- Malcolm Norrington LA School PA
I am very pleased with LDF and would use and recommend them again and again and again.
- James Walker Yakima Police Patrolsman Assn
This attorney and her legal team were one of the best I’ve seen and interacted with. I was always in the loop and constantly updated on the case status. I would use (my attorney) again if the need came and recommend her to anyone.
- Nick Bannister Phoenix LEA
I was extremely grateful for professional representation provided by ( my attorney ) during this extremely stressful situation
- Daniel Smock Ventura County PPOA
Everything went smooth. I think the current system works very well.
- Paul Hernandez LA Gen Services POA Inc.
[My Representative] was very helpful in my situation and I can't thank him enough.