Officers contradict ex-cop’s actions - East Valley Tribune: News

Officers contradict ex-cop’s actions

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Posted: Friday, June 11, 2004 6:16 am | Updated: 6:05 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Prosecutors scrutinized the judgment of a former Chandler police officer Thursday who is charged with seconddegree murder." class="content-link" target="738">View Tribune reporter Lauara Douglas' report on ABC 15

Chandler police officers called to testify Wednesday and Thursday in the trial of Daniel Lovelace had either minimal or peripheral roles in the case but their testimony often was expanded to include their training on use of force and Chandler Police Department policies.

Lovelace, 39, claims he felt threatened when he shot Dawn Rae Nelson Oct. 11, 2002, in self-defense. Part of his defense has been to remind jurors that police are paid to confront danger, police work is unpredictable and officers are forced to make life and death decisions quickly.

The shooting occurred as Nelson fled in her car from a Chandler drive-through pharmacy to escape Lovelace’s investigation into her attempt to pass a fake prescription.

Prosecutors contend the shooting was unjustified because Nelson was shot from behind and posed no threat to Lovelace.

Prosecutors’ questions in the Mesa courtroom Thursday implied as much.

"Is shooting and killing a citizen a first option," in the escalating use of force, prosecutor Vince Imbordino asked one officer.

Imbordino asked the same officer, Leonard Bettendorf, if he was trained to shoot to kill someone running away as a first option.

"No," Bettendorf said.

Prosecutor Michael Denney asked another officer if "killing an unarmed female picking up a prescription" was a success for police.

Two officers also said they are not trained to park their motorcycles or patrol cars in front of cars with suspects in them as Lovelace had.

Nelson knocked over Lovelace’s motorcycle when she fled, squealing her tires.

The trial will continue Monday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Two key witnesses, Brandi and Jennifer Gonzalez, are scheduled to testify then. The sisters said they saw Lovelace run after Nelson and then fire his weapon from behind her.

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