Not Guilty!!!!


July 11, 2004, 01:21 AM
I don't know how many of you have been following this, but Officer Dan Lovelace was found not guilty of 2nd degree murder yesterday!!!
Now comes the hard part. Putting his life and shattered career back together again!!

Lovelace Acquitted Second Degree Murder
07-10-2004 12:41 AM

(Mesa, AZ) -- A jury has found former Chandler Police Officer Dan Lovelace not guilty of second-degree murder and endangerment charges. The eight jurors decided that Lovelace acted in self defense when he fatally shot 35-year-old Dawn Rae Nelson in her car in a Walgreens pharmacy drive-through. She had been accused of trying to fill a fake prescription prior to the shooting. The woman's one-year-old son was also in the car at the time of the October 2002 shooting, but was not injured. Defense attorney's had argued that Lovelace feared Nelson would run him down with her car. The prosecution charged that Lovelace over reacted and that Nelson was shot from behind.

Copyright 2004 Metro Networks Communications Inc., A Westwood One Company

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July 11, 2004, 01:26 AM
So a LEO shot someone (from behind even?) who was in a drive-through section (wall on one side, curb on the other is what it sounds like) where he could have jumped out of the way had she made an aggressive move towards him faster than he could draw and shoot?

How is this a good thing?

Either way, we need more details.

July 11, 2004, 01:59 AM
I see nothing to cheer with this verdict. I think its another glaring example of cops facing no consequences for exericising extremely poor judgement. Well at least Lovelace is out of a job for the time being, but I wouldnt doubt him getting back into law enforcement some time in the future.

July 11, 2004, 03:28 AM
I see a very short news article that may or may not be representative of the facts of the incident and case.

July 11, 2004, 03:39 AM
I'm not making any judgments on the case other to point out that a jury of his peers found him innocent of the crime that he was charged.

Now that he is a free man, he has to put his life together again.
No, from what I know about the case, he will not be working as an LEO for a while. Although, his lawyer is considering suing the city of Chandler to have him reinstated.

More background:

Officer cleared in killing
Lovelace shot mom in car at Chandler drugstore

Jim Walsh and Josh Kelley
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 10, 2004 12:00 AM

Jurors refused to second-guess a former Chandler police officer, acquitting him of all charges after three days of deliberations in the on-duty shooting of an Ahwatukee Foothills woman.

Dan Lovelace, 39, the first Arizona officer to stand trial on felony charges stemming from an officer-involved shooting, was found not guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter and endangerment in the shooting of Dawn Rae Nelson.

"The message will be that it's difficult to convict a police officer," said Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Vince Imbordino. "That's just a fact. Whether that's right or wrong is a question for a different day."

Friends and supporters of Lovelace gasped in Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Keppel's jammed Mesa courtroom as the verdicts were read. An elated Lovelace kissed his wife, Trish, and his 1* year-old daughter.

Related info
• Emotions stir at trial's end
Chandler police chief reacts
Lovelace trial from start to finish
As a juror, would you acquit Dan Lovelace of murder charges?
Do you agree with the jury?

Lovelace left through a side door and refused to comment, but defense attorney Craig Mehrens said his client was going to celebrate the verdict.

"He's numb. He's so happy to know there are eight men and women who had faith in him. Sometimes, the system really does work," Mehrens said. "He now knows that he's free. He wants to spend some time with his wife and daughter."

Mehrens argued during the trial that Lovelace was just doing his job when he chased prescription drug fraud suspect Dawn Nelson, 35, and fired only to avoid getting run over by her car. Imbordino argued that Lovelace had no reason to chase Nelson and was never in the path of her car. He said police easily could have arrested her later because they had her license plate number.

Dawn Nelson's widower was disappointed by the verdict and said it was a miscarriage of justice.

"I thought it was very cowardly of them," John "Colby" Nelson said. "They just didn't do their job. What were they afraid of to convict him?"

The key question faced by jurors was whether Lovelace was reasonably in fear for his life when he shot Dawn Nelson. Lovelace testified that he feared for his life and believed the front left tire of her Camaro had already struck him when he fired.

Colby Nelson attributed Lovelace's acquittal to his historic role as the first Arizona officer to stand trial for an on-duty shooting.

The Nelsons' son, Kenneth, 14 months old at the time, was riding in a rear car seat when Lovelace shot Dawn Nelson.

"I wish I could tell him (Kenneth) that the person who killed his mother is in jail," Colby Nelson said. "There was just overwhelming evidence against him."

A motorcycle officer, Lovelace went to the Walgreens at Dobson and Warner roads on Oct. 11, 2002, to investigate a report of a prescription drug fraud in progress. Witnesses testified he chased Nelson's car on foot when she fled from a drive-through window and knocked over his motorcycle.

After Nelson made a sharp left turn, Lovelace testified that he was afraid she would run over him or crush him against a nearby building. Prosecutors said he shot her from behind, the bullet entering the rear of her left arm and ripping through her heart and lungs.

"If they (jurors) didn't believe him, they wouldn't have acquitted him," Mehrens said.

The department fired Lovelace after an internal investigation, and the city paid at least $1.9 million to the Nelson family to settle a civil lawsuit.

Lovelace's certification was never suspended because the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board was awaiting the outcome of his trial. A felony conviction would have resulted in automatic revocation of his certification.

"I would be disturbed if he's ever employed as an officer again," Imbordino said.

Lovelace faced up to 24 years in prison if con- victed.

Dave LeVoy, president of the Chandler Law Enforcement Association, said that he wasn't surprised by the verdict and always thought Lovelace would be exonerated.

"We always had faith in the judicial system," said LeVoy, who hugged Lovelace after the verdicts were read. "And we knew that once the facts were heard by a jury of his peers that this would be the verdict."

County Attorney Rick Romley said he knew going into the trial that very few law enforcement officers have been convicted nationwide on charges stemming from on-duty shootings.

"Knowing what I know today, even with the not guilty verdicts, I'd still bring the charges," Romley said. "The facts of this case, we believe a jury needed to make the ultimate decisions."

Lovelace was the only officer charged with crimes stemming from an on-duty shooting during Romley's 16-year tenure as county attorney.

"I believe a police officer has a very difficult job. I will generally give the benefit of the doubt to a police officer," Romley said.

But Romley said he would not hesitate to file charges against an officer in the future if he believed the officer acted outside the law in a police shooting.

Reach the reporter at or (602) 444-7984.

July 11, 2004, 04:36 AM

denfoote, whatya think this is, Coptalk?

Open Carry
July 11, 2004, 04:57 AM
I met Dan once. He seemed like a nice enough guy. He made a bad decision and tragedy resulted. Dawn Nelson made him make that decision. I don't know if he should have been hung out to dry. It seems to me that with all the problems with the Chief and senior staff, he never had anyone backing him up in the press. Anyone can say anthing, but when a situation is escalated, carefully deliberated decisions are hard to come by.

July 11, 2004, 05:03 AM
Next time I blow some woman's lungs out with her 1 year old child next to her I'm confident that it will be a "bad decision" too.

Excuse me while I hurl again.

What kind of cowards are police being twisted into nowadays?

July 11, 2004, 06:16 AM
Aren't you being a tad over critical? If someone made and attempt to kill you, would you not fire back in selfdefense whether or not their children were watching?

From reading the story, it appears she already made a move at him with the car, might have been making another when he shot. It really doesn't give enough details of the shooting for any one of us to make a decision.

Sergeant Bob
July 11, 2004, 07:02 AM
Aren't you being a tad over critical? If someone made and attempt to kill you,
Aren't you being a bit presumptious? The story presented says nothing about an attempt being made on his life.

All it says is..."Witnesses testified he chased Nelson's car on foot when she fled from a drive-through window and knocked over his motorcycle."

He was chasing her car, which would seem to indicate he was following her.

She knocked over his motorcycle, which he was not on as he was chasing her on foot.

Then it says "After Nelson made a sharp left turn, Lovelace testified that he was afraid she would run over him or crush him against a nearby building.

He was afraid she would kill him, not that she tried to kill him.

Then this Prosecutors said he shot her from behind, the bullet entering the rear of her left arm and ripping through her heart and lungs.

He shot her from behind, after she made a sharp left turn, which indicates she was still going away from him.

You're making assumptions which have no basis in fact, according to the story presented.

Just because he was "afraid", is not justification for shooting. It has to be a credible theat, which judging by this story, I just don't see it.

Some people fear for their lives 24 hours a day. It doesn't necessarily give them grounds to shoot people.

July 11, 2004, 10:47 AM
Some people employ logic 24 hours a day, but it doesn't make it good logic and it doesn't always result in useful conclusions.

On a different note, did anyone here sit through the entire trial and listen to all of the evidence? I didn't think so.


July 11, 2004, 11:52 AM
Ya think a non-LEO would have been aquited of charges in the same circumstances?

:fire: :fire: :fire:

July 11, 2004, 11:54 AM
"The Clinton Administration would like the federal government to have the capability to read any international or domestic computer communications. The FBI wants access to decode, digest and discuss financial transactions, personal emails and proprietary information sent abroad all in the name of national security. The Administration's interest in all email is a holy unhealthy precedent, especially given this administration's track record on FBI files and IRS snooping. Every medium by which people communicate can be subject to exploitation by those with illegal intentions. Never the less, this is no reason to hand Big Brother the keys to unlock our email diaries, open our ATM records and read our medical records or translate our international communications. The implications here are far reaching with impact that touch individual users, companies, libraries, teachers and students." - then Senator John Ashcroft

Too bad the Bush administration actually made these things into law.

Are you honestly saying that based on the evidence that you are aware of, you would aquitt? Didn't think so.

Art Eatman
July 11, 2004, 12:12 PM
This is another of those threads where the arguments are based upon the usual incomplete knowledge of the facts. When surmises get translated into hardened opinions, MEGO.



July 11, 2004, 12:19 PM
Folks, I don't think this is as clear-cut a case as some are assuming... for example, a reconstruction of events described the range of the gunshot as 3½ FEET - that's just over one yard, and that's pretty darn close to a speeding car! See here ( for details.

Also, Officer Lovelace's own testimony (see here ( seems to indicate that the shooting took place in a high-speed blur of action, without much time to decide on the rights or wrongs of the situation.

I guess the jury gave him the benefit of the doubt: and I hope I'm never in his shoes to have to make the same kind of decision under the same kind of pressure. Under the circumstances, perhaps we should also give him the benefit of the doubt?

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