Lakemoor Police Officer’s Shooting of Murder Suspect Ruled Justifiable Self-Defense

Lake Count Sate’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim released the following statement today:

Officer-Involved Shooting – July 26, 2018

Four Seasons Boulevard & Sullivan Lake Boulevard

Lakemoor Police Department

On July 26, 2018 shortly after 5:00 a.m., an officer with the Lakemoor Police Department was involved in a shooting within the town of Lakemoor.

After the incident, a request was made for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force (LCMCTF) to assume this investigation. The LCMCTF deployed a team of investigators to undertake that responsibility.

The LCMCTF then performed the following tasks: Interviewed all witnesses to determine what occurred prior to, during, and after the shooting.

  • Interviewed all witnesses to determine what occurred prior to, during, and after the shooting.
  • Photographed the scene
  • Recovered all physical evidence and video footage
  • Reviewed the autopsy report and findings

The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office has reviewed all of this information and the applicable laws regarding a police officer’s use of deadly force. This informational release will outline the evidence in this case so that our Lake County Community is fully apprised of what occurred in the early morning hours of July 26, 2018.

Prelude to July 26, 2018 Officer-Involved Shooting

On July 23, 2018, Kenneth Martell tied, robbed, beat, and stabbed to death 88-year-old Theodore Garver in his Beaver Township home in Pennsylvania. After the murder, Kenneth Martell abducted some other individuals at gunpoint and forced them to aid Martell in the disposal of the man’s body. Mr. Martell eventually dumped the body in a lake near Mr. Garver’s residence.

A murder warrant was issued for the arrest of Kenneth Martell. That warrant was pending on July 26, 2018 when Mr. Martell was shot and killed by Lakemoor Police.

Family members of Mr. Martell would later recount to police his abuse of illegal drugs including methamphetamine. Mr. Martell had made statements to friends and family that “cops were going to kill him over a drug bust” and that he was “not going down without a fight.”

Brianna Tedesco Statement

Officer Tedesco is a police officer with the Lakemoor Police Department. She has been with Lakemoor for over 1 year. Prior to that, she had been with the South Holland Police Department and the Darien Police Department.

On July 25, 2018, Officer Tedesco began her shift at 11:00 p.m. and was scheduled to conclude her shift on July 26, 2018 at 7:00 a.m. She was dressed in her duty uniform of shirt, pants, and outer ballistic vest. She had her Lakemoor Police badge and name plate pinned to the outside of her vest. She was wearing a duty belt which included her standard duty gear. Officer Tedesco was wearing a body camera and a squad camera microphone. The microphone was clipped to her left shoulder.

During her shift, Officer Tedesco was driving a marked police SUV squad equipped with emergency lights and siren. She was assigned to the Lake County District in Lakemoor and was patrolling its subdivisions. She was driving northbound on Four Seasons Boulevard when she spotted an SUV backed onto a gravel path. The vehicle had its lights off. Officer Tedesco pulled into the area facing this suspicious vehicle. She engaged her squad lights. Officer Tedesco notified her location to the dispatcher. She noted that there was no license plate on the front of the car. Officer Tedesco activated her body camera and synced it with her squad camera.

Officer Tedesco approached the vehicle. She observed a man (later identified as Kenneth Martell) in a reclined position. She then shined a flashlight on him. Mr. Martell sat up, started his car, and rolled his window down. He stated that he had been napping. Mr. Martell then stated that he was from Pennsylvania, was heading west, and had found his current location “by accident.”

Mr. Martell was asked for his driver’s license. He stated he didn’t have one. Officer Tedesco asked for any document that might have his name on it. Mr. Martell looked around his car and inquired as to whether he had done something wrong. Officer Tedesco assured him that she was checking on him because he was parked on private property.

Mr. Martell then stated that his name was “James Dunkin.” Officer Tedesco asked for the exact spelling, his date of birth, and the state issuing his license. She provided dispatch with this information. Martell was advised that they would be ensuring that he had no warrant for his arrest.

Officer Tedesco walked to the back of the car and wrote down the license plate number. Officer Tedesco advised fellow Officer Lioacono, by radio, that her location was “just past the townhouses pulled off the roadway on Sullivan Lake Road.”

Officer Tedesco was notified by the dispatcher that there was no record for the name provided by Mr. Martell. Martell was advised of this fact. Officer Tedesco again asked Mr. Martell for any document that would have his identity on it. Martell looked around the car and turned the interior light on. In the meantime, Officer Tedesco notified dispatch of the car’s license plate number.

Mr. Martell, at this point, handed a piece of paper to Officer Tedesco. As the officer was reviewing the paper handed to her, a noise could be heard as Martell was looking down at the inside of the driver’s door.

Mr. Martell reached out the window and pointed a handgun directly at Officer Tedesco. Officer Tedesco looked up and saw the gun being pointed at her. Officer Tedesco believed that Martell pulled the trigger of the gun. It did not fire. She immediately pulled the gun with her right hand and pushed it away from her. Officer Tedesco then dropped the items in her other hand and used both of her hands to push the gun down and back into the driver’s vehicle. 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. He reached out and grabbed Officer Tedesco and pulled her back towards the car. Officer Tedesco then saw Martell reaching for a second gun. Officer Tedesco was in fear for her life and believed that Martell was about to kill her.

It was at this point that backup Officer Anthony Loiacono appeared at the scene. Officer Loiacono approached the vehicle. Officer Tedesco pulled away from Martell’s car. As she moved back, Officer Loiacono fired a single round at Mr. Martell. Martell fell back in the seat. Officer Loiacono eventually unlocked the car and opened the door. He located two handguns inside of the car.

Radio command was then immediately notified of this officer-involved shooting and Officer Loiacono requested an ambulance to be sent to the scene.

Officer Anthony Loiacono Statement

Officer Anthony Loiacono is a police officer with the Lakemoor Police Department. He has been with Lakemoor since 2016. Officer Loiacono has 14 years of law enforcement experience including tenures with the Crestwood (IL) Police Department and the Palos Park (IL) Police Department.

In the early morning hours of July 26, 2018, Officer Loiacono was wearing his standard patrol uniform. His shirt displayed Lakemoor Police patches on both shoulders. His vest carrier displayed a police badge and name plate. Officer Loiacono’s duty belt included standard officer gear including a Glock 21 handgun. Officer Loiacono was driving a fully marked Lakemoor Police Ford Explorer.

On the morning of July 26, 2018 at approximately 4:58 a.m., Officer Loiacono was at the Lakemoor Police Department doing paperwork. Officer Loiacono heard a radio communication that Officer Tedesco had located a suspicious vehicle on Sullivan Lake Boulevard. Officer Loiacono left the station and proceeded toward Officer Tedesco’s location to provide cover.

As Officer Loiacono was driving, he continued to monitor radio traffic. He heard that the name and date of birth provided to Officer Tedesco had been run through the system and came back with no record of any individual with those identifiers.

Officer Loiacono, believing that this individual may be providing a false name and could be wanted, increased his speed to promptly get to the location.

Officer Tedesco requested the location of Officer Loiacono. When Officer Loiacono responded, Officer Tedesco gave more exact details of her precise location.

Officer Loiacono pulled up to the rear of Officer Tedesco’s vehicle. His windows were down. He could hear Officer Tedesco screaming at an individual. Officer Loiacono put his squad in park and quickly got out to assist his partner.

Officer Loiacono observed that Officer Tedesco was in a physical struggle at the driver’s door of a vehicle. The driver looked as if he was trying to pull Officer Tedesco into the car through the driver’s window. Officer Tedesco was able to take a step away from the driver’s door. At this point, the driver (now known as Kenneth Martell) raised his hands. Each hand had a revolver in it. Mr. Martell pointed both revolvers in the direction of Officer Loiacono. Officer Loiacono stated that he now was in fear for his life and the life of Officer Tedesco. Officer Loiacono stated words, to the effect, of “drop it.” Officer Loiacono then drew his own weapon and pointed it at Mr. Martell. Officer Loiacono then leaned slightly to his right and fired one round at Martell’s face. Martell’s body slumped back in the driver’s seat.

Officer Loiacono radioed dispatch that shots were fired and requested that command staff be notified and that an ambulance be dispatched to the scene. Officer Loiacono then asked Officer Tedesco to cover him as he approached Mr. Martell. Mr. Martell remained unresponsive. Officer Loiacono opened the driver’s door. Two revolvers were laying next to Martell in his lap area. The guns were removed from the car. Officer Loiacono then tended to Mr. Martell and could see that no life-saving efforts could be attempted to save his life. Dispatch later notified both officers that Martell was wanted for the offense of murder in the state of Pennsylvania.

The weapons found near the lap of Mr. Martell were:

  1.  A Colt Police Positive .38 caliber revolver (fully loaded)
  2.  A Rohm GMBH Sontheim/Brz 22 caliber magnum revolver (unloaded)

During a subsequent search for evidence in a wooded area near the shooting site, the following was located:

Mr. Martell had hidden a large number of weapons including rifles, shotguns, crossbows, and ammunition.

Accompanying this weaponry were court documents, bail bond documentation, and a criminal summons all in the name of Kenneth Martell.

Also located within the area was stolen property and identification cards of Mr. Martell’s Pennsylvania murder victim Theodore Garver.

Post-Mortem Examination

An autopsy was performed on the body of Kenneth Martell on July 26, 2018. The examination showed that Kenneth Martell died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Toxicology Results

  • Amphetamine 24 ng/ml
  • Methamphetamine 36 ng/ml
  • Delta-9 Carboxy THC 29 ng/ml
  • Delta-9 THC 1.1 ng/ml

Audio and Video Evidence

Audio and video recordings of this event were captured via officer worn body cameras and police squad video recordings.

Conclusion

Based upon the facts gathered in this investigation and a review of the applicable Illinois Statutes, Officer Loiacono acted reasonably and appropriately.

Officer Tedesco was on duty, in uniform, and driving a marked Lakemoor Police Department squad. Officer Tedesco observed a suspicious vehicle backed onto a path on private property with no headlights illuminated.

Officer Tedesco radioed for backup. Officer Tedesco approached the vehicle on foot.

Officer Tedesco wanted to ensure the well-being of the occupant and to determine why he was located in that area. Officer Tedesco asked for some identification.

The occupant, Mr. Martell, provided a fictitious name to Officer Tedesco.

When Officer Tedesco determined that there was no record for the name Mr. Martell provided, she asked for some written identification.

Mr. Martell handed the officer a piece of paper.

As the officer was reading the document, Martell produced a handgun and pointed it directly at her head.

It became apparent that the tender of a piece of paper was designed to distract Officer Tedesco from what Martell was about to do.

A struggle for the gun ensued.

As this was taking place, Officer Loiacono arrived at the scene.

Officer Loiacono saw this struggle taking place and heard Officer Tedesco screaming.

Officer Loiacono thought that the driver of the car was trying to pull Officer Tedesco into the car through the driver’s window.

Officer Loiacono continued to advance on foot toward the altercation.

At one point, Officer Tedesco was able to take a step back from the driver’s door.

Mr. Martell then raised both of his hands.

Each hand was holding a revolver. As Martell raised both hands in the direction of Officer Loiacono, he believed that he and fellow Officer Tedesco were both in danger of being shot to death. Retreat was not an option.

With both officers within feet of a man armed with two handguns, only one option remained for the officers: To defend themselves.

It was at this point that Officer Loiacono drew his weapon and fired one shot at Mr. Martell.

Martell was killed by that single shot. Dispatch was then immediately notified of this shooting.

During this entire interaction, Officer Tedesco was respectful, thorough, and conducted herself as a consummate professional.

Martell’s acts of deception and lies to Officer Tedesco were a prelude to an ambush.

That ambush resulted in Officer Tedesco coming face to face with Martell and his two handguns.

It was only through her immediate reaction to this trap that she was able to save herself.

Her quick actions and fight for the gun allowed additional time for her partner to arrive at the scene.

Her partner was then able to end this deadly confrontation.

The acts of these two skilled officers were masterful and indicative of two people acting in self-defense.

The motivation for Martell’s actions became apparent after the shooting took place:

He was a man wanted for the Pennsylvania murder of 88-year-old Theodore Garver, a crime which had occurred three days earlier.

In accordance with the policy of my office with respect to officer involved shootings involving death, I am making the case file open and available to the public.

Transparency is essential to promoting public trust.

Please note that due to ethical, legal and privacy issues, not all of the case file can be made public and some of the reports that have been made public have been redacted.

This file will be available in the coming weeks on the State’s Attorney website to anyone who wishes to review the material.

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.

I would like to express my condolences to the family of Theodore Glover.

And though Kenneth Martell’s death was a consequence of his own actions, I express sympathy to his family.

I would also like to acknowledge the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force for its expertise, dedication, and thoroughness.

I would like to commend the extraordinary professionalism exhibited by Officer Tedesco and Officer Loiacono during these trying circumstances.

And lastly, my thanks to the citizens of Lakemoor for their patience and cooperation in this matter.

-Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim


Comments

Lakemoor Police Officer’s Shooting of Murder Suspect Ruled Justifiable Self-Defense — 2 Comments

  1. Good work Officers. Thankfully, you both went home that morning and the offender will cause no harm to anyone else ever again.

  2. Good job Officers. Thankfully, you both made it home that morning. The offender will never be able to hurt anyone ever again. Kudos to both of you.

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