News from my hometown of Lantana-
LANTANA — John Earl Clemons Jr. started his night at a teen dance, hanging with friends, looking for a good time.It will be terrible if this boy can't ever walk again. Still the blame appears to fall at John Earl's feet.
The evening ended with a police officer firing a bullet into the 14-year-old that could leave him paralyzed, his family said.
Clemons, an eighth-grader at Congress Middle School in Boynton Beach, can barely speak from his hospital bed at Delray Medical Center, family members said.
With no feeling in much of his body and the bullet still lodged inside, doctors don't know whether he will be able to walk again, the family said.
His brother and another relative said Wednesday that they are angry at John for what he did to end up in that hospital bed. They said he was stuck at a dance at The Palace roller skating rink on Lantana Road without a ride, so he stole a Dodge Neon, rode around town with friends and tried to run over officer Joel Shackelford.Note- The palace is a half mile walk from my house.
"I'm mad at the police because they shot him, and I'm mad at John because he had no business stealing a car," said his brother, Kelvin Clemons, 14. "I feel sorry every time I look at him. I know how he feels."
The events that led to the shooting began Monday when Shackelford, Lantana's only motorcycle cop, drove two blocks out of city limits, after his shift ended, to keep following the stolen gold Neon.
At the end of the traffic stop, his Harley-Davidson motorcycle was smashed by the car and John Clemons Jr. had a bullet in him.
You do have to wonder about Officer Shackelford and whether he is suited to do police work.
Shackelford's record has since come into question. Two months ago, he fired at another car.I blogged about that story here.
Even with her car being shot at and police chasing her, Katie Lee Vest still couldn't bring herself to hang up her cellphone.That's two incidents in a little over two months. There's more from today's Post.
While chatting away in her big, white blue-roofed Cadillac, police say the 24-year-old woman — who claimed she was pregnant — turned a suburban Lantana neighborhood into a stunt-driving course Tuesday while fleeing from a Lantana motorcycle cop after an attempted traffic stop. She drove off the street, between homes and into a fenced-in residential back yard in the Sea Pines neighborhood, police say.
Seemingly trapped, with the officer yelling for her to stop, police say she quickly reversed, nearly striking him. Officer Joel Shackelford's Harley-Davidson fell on him, but he managed to fire a single shot, hoping to strike the car's tire, said Lantana police Capt. Andy Rundle.
If what the Post is reporting is true, I'd question Shackelford's suitability for police work. TFM has always maintained those in our law enforcement and legal system need to be held to a very high standard. Officer Shackelford at present doesn't look suited to serve the people of Lantana.
According to his chief and his annual performance review, he is a good, dedicated cop who keeps his composure in stressful situations, has a positive attitude and bases his decisions on fact rather than emotion.
"Joel's a very well-respected member of the police department," Chief Rick Lincoln said. "He's a hard worker. He produces a lot of citations and arrests."
But the 38-year-old officer also had conflicts in the almost five years he has worked in Lantana. He was written up for a shouting match with a sergeant, for a vehicle crash he caused on duty and for failure to show up at traffic court, according to his personnel file.
In May, he made a comment to a defense attorney in court that prompted the bailiff to write a report about it.
At a routine hearing over a speeding ticket, defense attorney Bill Abramson successfully argued that Shackelford's radar gun was not calibrated to the latest standards.
Shackelford's response, according to the report: He turned to Abramson and said, "You're done."
Abramson asked him if that was a threat, and Shackelford replied that it wasn't.
The officer then added, "But you burned your bridges with me."
The report does not name Shackelford, but Abramson identified him as the officer.
"I've beaten a lot of cops on a lot of cases, and they don't turn to me and say 'You're done,''" said Abramson, who estimates he has handled 25,000 speeding cases.
Disclosure- My wife knows Lantana Police Captain Rundle through her work as a church receptionist.
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