Video: Inside Vernon Hills police station shooting
BY RICK KAMBIC firstname.lastname@example.org April 17, 2013 11:26AM
Updated: May 19, 2013 7:37AM
Vernon Hills police released surveillance footage of the April 3 confrontation with Howard Lazarus, 53, of Mundelein, that led to a shooting inside the police department.
Release of the footage coincides with the officer being cleared of wrong doing on Tuesday, April 16. Police spokeswoman Sharon Joseph said the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force concluded its investigation and suggested the officer return to work.
The released video starts with Lazarus entering the building in the early morning hours claiming to have been involved in a car accident in Mundelein.
The police officer enters the foyer and tells Lazarus to file a report with the Mundelein Police Department. The officer then offers to drive Lazarus to the Mundelein police station.
Early in the footage, the two men conclude their conversation and Lazarus begins to depart.
Soon after, Lazarus reveals a handgun prompting the officer to seek cover.
The two men shout to one another, in which police say Lazarus asked to be shot.
Thirty seconds later, Lazarus takes a step toward the officer, who fires two shots in response.
One shot hits the building door, while the other strikes Lazarus in the abdomen.
Backup officers enter the building a minute later, and four minutes later, paramedics tend to Lazarus.
Police later discovered that Lazarus’ handgun was an “Airsoft Pistol with the appearance of a semi-automatic handgun.” A note was also found in the man’s pocket indicating his inability to commit suicide.
Lazarus was later charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer.
The investigation by the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force involved reviewing the footage, audio recordings and forensics, as well as interviews with dispatchers and the officer involved.
Joseph said the goal was for an independent agency to determine if the officer had other appropriate options. The report said he acted appropriately.
Police Chief Mark Fleischauer met with all shifts following the incident and explained why the involved officer was placed on leave. Joseph said no moral issues have arisen from those meetings.
No policy changes geared toward gun-handling or overnight shifts are in store for Vernon Hills police officers, Joseph said.