Police: Lincoln officers handled crossbow incident properly

2010-12-29T02:00:00Z 2012-06-07T11:59:15Z Police: Lincoln officers handled crossbow incident properlyBy ZACH PLUHACEK / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com
December 29, 2010 2:00 am  • 

Lincoln police have gotten "a ton of e-mails" after footage of a recent arrest was posted on YouTube.

By Tuesday afternoon, more than 33,500 people had looked at the first half of a 20-minute recording that shows officers holding down Gary S. Grana as he and a woman videotaping the incident yell at the officers. The second part of the video had almost 9,000 views.

Officers went to Grana's mobile home at 37th Street and Cornhusker Highway on Dec. 21 after a neighbor called to say a man was firing a bow and arrow. City ordinance bans firing weapons within the city limits "in such a manner as to endanger the safety of persons or property."

Grana met Officers Brian Hoefer and Bonnie Nichols outside his trailer and denied using a bow and arrow, a police report says. He had no bow and arrow at the time, the report says, but refused to give his name and pulled away when Hoefer grabbed his arm in an attempt to detain him.

"Hoefer was concerned that if Grana was able to make it inside of the residence he might have access to weapons," the report says. "(Hoefer) yelled at Grana to stop, and then took him down on the front porch of the residence directly in front of the door."

Hoefer, who is now on light duty, needed 10 stitches to close a 2-inch cut he suffered on his right hand during the scuffle, police say. Nichols was on active duty Tuesday, and no officers were suspended because of the incident, Police Officer Katie Flood said.

A video recording of the incident after the scuffle went up on YouTube on Christmas Eve, and the e-mails began.

One note in the inboxes of Police Chief Tom Casady, Assistant Chief Jim Peschong and Mayor Chris Beutler likened the officers to "terrorist bastards." Its author refused to give his name.

"I guess I just completely discount that," Peschong said of the e-mail. "The reality of the situation is, officers were called there regarding a concern or a safety concern ... we obviously have a reason to wind up being there."

Rescue workers and additional officers arrived soon after Hoefer and Nichols, and the video begins with Hoefer on top of Grana on the porch.

Police followed the arrest with a search of the mobile home that afternoon and found more than a dozen weapons, including knives, blow guns, throwing stars, arrows, three crossbows and a bow, according to a search warrant return filed in Lancaster County District Court.

Stephanie Shaw, who shot the video, made an internal affairs inquiry, but said she'll discuss the issue with her attorney before pursuing it further, Peschong said.

In the video, Shaw asks repeatedly what Grana has done wrong and why police took him down.

Peschong said there is no internal investigation into the case, and he knew of no formal complaints against the department or the officers. After watching the footage, he said he didn't see any problems with the way officers handled the situation.

Flood said LPD has gotten "a ton" of e-mails, and Beutler spokeswoman Diane Gonzolas said his office got four, all from southern states outside Nebraska.

Prosecutors charged Grana with felony third-degree assault of an officer, and a judge set his bond at 10 percent of $50,000 the day after the incident. He was still in jail Tuesday afternoon.

Police also cited Grana and Shaw on suspicion of misdemeanor child abuse. A 4-year-old girl was home at the time of the incident, Flood said, and the house was heated only by two space heaters. The only food inside, she said, was an uncooked bowl of rice, dried beans and leftover chicken bones. Police temporarily seized the mobile home as a crime scene, Peschong said. It since has been returned.

The YouTube post is titled "Illegal Search," but Peschong said police got a warrant before searching the property.

"This happens with quite regularity," he said. "The police didn't do an illegal search."

Reach Zach Pluhacek at 402-473-7234 or zpluhacek@journalstar.com.


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