An Oregon man was on trial for several serious offenses. Apparently, he got pretty scared and desperate. The stunning video revealed what he tried to do to a police officer in open court.
Scott Patrick Lemmon, an Oregon resident, was facing several serious charges. He was on trial for attempted robbery at a local beachfront resort. Pointing a realistic — but fake — gun at two guests, he threatened to kill them unless they handed over cash and valuables.
Those attempts put him before the court. As he faced justice for his alleged crimes, deputies requested that the man be restrained. It’s common in many court cases for dangerous criminals to be at least handcuffed for the safety of everyone else in court. In some cases, the defendant might even be forced to wear shackles and be chained to their seats.
Sounds extreme? Some say so. Criminal advocates claim this makes a defendant appear very guilty. It might even sway the opinion of a jury.
It seems like the judge in this case agreed and refused the deputies request. Lemmon was allowed to sit, unrestrained, in court beside his public defender and several officers.
Perhaps that judge is rethinking his policy, though. This time around, the man proved exactly why some defendants need to be restrained.
When nobody was expecting it, Lemmon jumped out of his seat and lunged for the closest cop. His aim was for the officer’s gun. Without a doubt, Lemmon was determined to shoot his way out of the court. Countless lives could have been lost.
Thankfully, officers moved with lightning speed and apprehended the man, avoiding what would have become yet another tragedy.
In a scuffle caught on courtroom video Wednesday, a man identified by the Sheriff’s Office as Lemmon suddenly stands up and lunges for a gun worn by a Newport police officer sitting at the counsel table nearby.
The officer was able to turn away in a split second and a courthouse deputy quickly tackled Lemmon to the floor.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Josh McDowall said the response averted a possible catastrophe.
“There would have been a shootout in the courthouse,” McDowall said. “I don’t like to think about it. It would have been scary.” [Source: The Oregonian]
Watch the video closely. From the very start, Lemmon was planning something. His chair was further back than the other three men. He kept looking over in the direction of the police. At one point, he moved up a bit; that was perhaps a test to see how quickly the nearby cops would respond to his movements.
When it seemed like nobody was watching, he jumped from his chair and went for the gun. But he wasn’t counting on the two deputies, waiting in the wings, who pounced on him. Even his public defender grappled with him for a minute.
Imagine how quickly this event would have turned into a nightmare. Courts have strict security. Other than police, nobody is allowed inside a courthouse with a weapon. For this very reason. Desperate criminals will stop at nothing to be free. They know they might be sent away for a long time. Grabbing a gun and shooting their way out seems like the only option.
But let’s circle back to why this happened in the first place. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made the decision to let defendants appear in court unrestrained. That decision allowed a man like Lemmon the mobility to attempt this horrifying act.
Defense attorneys have long argued that handcuffs and other restraints often are unnecessary and can prejudice not only juries but judges by sending the message that defendants are so dangerous that authorities must control their ability to move freely…
The result: Many courthouses across the nine states covered by the 9th Circuit made dramatic changes to their rules for restraining criminal defendants. In Multnomah County, Lincoln County and a number of other Oregon counties, that has means judges first must give the OK for each and every defendant to be restrained during courtroom hearings. [Source: The Oregonian]
Seems to me that judges should be stricter with this policy. A desperate defendant, looking at years in prison, is possible of anything. Especially a man on trial for attempted robbery with a weapon.
This judge certainly made the wrong call. Something tells me he’s since changed his mind. At least let’s hope he did.