Monday, August 17, 2009


Elyria – A LaGrange man was arrested Sunday morning after nearly striking two Elyria Police cars and leading Police on a chase.

Police say that 31-year-old Lonnie Gandee of LaGrange was traveling south on West Ridge Road just after 4am Sunday morning when he came up on a section of road that had been closed down by Elyria Police Officers.

Police had shut down a stretch of the road due to a crash that occurred late Saturday night. In that crash a pick up truck took down two Ohio Edison poles that left wires hanging across the road. Police stood by as 10 Ohio Edison employees worked to replace the poles.

Officer Joe Figula Jr. was posted on the north side of the site blocking southbound traffic and had been there for in excess of 6 hours. At approximately 4:17 a.m. Officer Figula spotted headlights heading towards him at what appeared to be a high rate of speed and not slowing down. Figula, who had his overhead lights flashing, began to fear that a crash was imminent.

As the vehicle came up on Figula the driver went off the right side of the road, over the shoulder and partially into a front yard, enabling the vehicle to pass Figula. Once past the car accelerated towards the Ohio Edison operation. Figula activated his siren and began blowing his air horn to alert the workers.

The driver of the car, Lonnie Gandee, continued through the site and past the Officer blocking the other side by again going off the left side of the road.

With Figula close behind with his lights and sirens going Gandee continued to accelerate as he traveled south on West Ridge passing Albrecht Road. Figula observed that Gandee appeared to have a difficult time maintaining control when entering the turn prior to the intersection of West Ridge and Russia Road. Gandee’s vehicle appeared to be fishtailing and crossing the centerline. When Figula began approaching speeds of 70 mph he began to back off for fear of being involved in an MVA himself.

With his lights and sirens turned off, Figula began following at a safe distance in an attempt to just obtain the car’s license plate.

Figula watched as Gandee blew through the intersection of Russia Road and gain a lot of ground on him due to his backing down. Continuing Figula knew that Gandee would be approaching a hard turn ahead near Butternut Ridge Road and didn’t believe that Gandee would be able to negotiate the curve at the speed he was traveling.

Gandee did lose control at the curve and went off the road, crossed a drainage ditch and wrecked approximately 200 feet in a field. When Figula approached the vehicle Gandee was seen gripping the steering wheel with both hands, revving the engine while grinding his teeth and making growling noises. Gandee continued trying to get his car unstuck while Figula continued to order him out of the car. Figula opened the driver’s side door but was unable to pull Gandee from the car.
After numerous attempts to get Gandee to release the steering wheel and exit the car Figula told him he would pepper spray him if he did not obey his commands. Continuing to ignore the commands Figula hit Gandee in the face with a quick blast of OC Spray. Gandee then released his grip on the wheel and Figula was able to pull Gandee from the vehicle.

Figula, who had hold of Gandee’s left wrist, ordered Gandee to get on the ground, an order that he refused. Gandee turned and faced Figula in an aggressive manner, and was attempting to pull away. Figula, noticing that Gandee was much larger then he was, delivered two strikes to Gandee’s upper left thigh area with his flashlight. Figula was able to then get Gandee onto his knees. Gandee continued to refuse to lie down and Figula was able to get Gandee down to all fours. Gandee then again attempted to stand up so Figula delivered a strike to Gandee’s right arm. Gandee laid down but tucked his arms under his torso. Another Officer arrived on scene and after a short struggle they were able to secure Gandee in handcuffs.

Officers were able to smell alcohol on Gandee and asked him if he had been drinking – Gandee replied, “not all that much.”

Officers observed a cooler in the front seat with several open and unopened 12 oz Coors light beers and an opened partially emptied half gallon bottle of Captain Morgan 80 proof rum.

Officers had to assist Gandee out of the field as he was having troubles walking on his own. Once they made it back to the road, Figula flushed Gandee’s eyes with cool water.

Figula noticed that the license plate on the car (a Plymouth Laser) was held on by a piece of tape and retuned to a 1997 Ford truck. The vehicle identification number (VIN) came back to an Eagle T44. A correct VIN was found inside the doorway.

Gandee was taken to the Elyria City Jail where he was again decontaminated for the OC spray. Gandee also refused to take a BAC test.

Gandee was charged with the following:
Failure to comply with a Police order or signal (F3)
Tampering with a VIN Plate (F5)
Resisting Arrest (M2)
OVI (M1)
DUS (M1)
Reckless Operation (MM)
Fictitious Plates (MM)
Expired Plates (MM)
Seatbelt (MM)
Open Container (MM)

Gandee has a lengthy record according to the Elyria Municipal Court records including OVI and drug charges.


Anonymous B. Bishop said...

If this story isn't the best reason I have ever heard for issuing Elyria Police Officers TASERS I don't know what is.

The cost of a TASER vs the cost of losing an officer makes it a no brainer.

If the guy refused commands then Figula could have used a non-lethal method that would have kept him from having to get within striking range of the bad guy.

And please, don't even start with the boo hoo some people die while getting tased. If you place your self in a position that you are having a cop draw any weapon on you then odds are you could use a few volts just for being stupid.

Besides in the long run getting wacked with a big flashlight will hurt a hell of a lot more than a taseing. (key phrase, long run.)

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Bishop,

Are you aware that Elyria Police Dept. was awarded tasers through a grant???

The Police Dept. already has in lock-up enough tasers to issue one to every officer. The Chief and other "brass", however feel the tasers are more of a risk to the public.

So instead of my husband being able to simply tase an offender he has to risk physical injury (as if the risk of death every time he works is not enough) by wrestling a criminal into compliance.

Thank you for your support Mr. Bishop. The Police Dept. should be doing everything in their power to PROTECT those men and women sworn to PROTECT & SERVE the public.

Thanks again,
An agreeing wife.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a bunch of dumb asses. The guy driving this car and the idiots that decided that the tasers are not appropriate. Although a good Mag light can be a good persuader. Especially to the knees. Haas

12:13 PM  
Blogger Dan O. said...

Well, as far as I'm concerned KEEP him locked up. We don't need the riff-raff back in LaGrange.

Oh, to the Elyria brASS: FREE THE TASERS! They don't do any good in a locker. Do your damn job so the cops can do their's.

9:31 PM  

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