By Mike Valente
Posted at 11:03 PM, Apr 08, 2021 and last updated 11:15 PM, Apr 08, 2021
LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The family of a teenager hit by a police cruiser March 30 opened up a city council meeting Thursday night by pleading for answers.
“We don’t want to place blame on anybody,” said Elizabeth Long. “We just want to figure out what happened because a response to a mental health crisis should never lead to injuries like those that Liam sustained.”
Long’s brother, Liam, 19, was hit by a police cruiser after officers responded to a call about a welfare check, according to police.
In the hours after the incident, Sergeant Donnel Gordon, a spokesperson for the Lexington Police Department, said a social worker called E911 to report that a 19-year-old man was having a mental health crisis. Long has autism and a history of mental health issues, according to his family.
The person in question was making verbal threats by phone to harm his caseworker, Sgt. Gordon said in a press release.
“When officers arrived the individual began making threats toward the officers while holding a knife,” he wrote to the media on March 30. “He then fled on foot. Officers initiated a foot pursuit. While fleeing the individual ran into the roadway and was struck by another officer arriving on the scene.”
His family, however, disputes that account.
“Many accounts shared with us led us to believe that the cruiser intentionally targeted Liam,” his mother, Kendra Long, said at the virtual council meeting.
“We’ve even been told the police continued to yell at him and treat him as a criminal after he was motionless in the road,” she continued.
LEX 18 has not spoken with any eyewitnesses who shared that observation. The only witnesses we could find at the time had only seen the moments leading up to the collision, when Long was running from police.
Sgt. Gordon declined to respond to the family’s charge that the officer intentionally hit Long.
LEX 18 filed an open records request Thursday seeking to obtain information about the incident on March 30, including the names of the officers called to the scene, any and all body camera footage, and the audio of the initial 911 call.
Chief Lawrence Weathers appeared at the virtual meeting and apologized to Long and his family, but he said the review into the incident does not rise to the level of being a criminal matter.
He also suggested that more information could be released to the public as soon as Friday.