Mayor Bill Foster on deadly St. Petersburg Police shooting: "They did it by the book"

7:46 PM, Feb 7, 2011   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - January 24th could easily be described as the darkest day that St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster has ever seen.

In fact, he admits that this past weekend is the first time he's had a good night's sleep since. He describes losing two police officers in the line of duty and leading a city in the midst of tragedy.

"I went to a dark place, when this happened that I didn't know existed. Just that, that feeling of grief, that personal loss," says the Mayor.

But, through the tragedy comes triumph.

Mayor Foster told us, "They were dark days, but through a lot of prayer and support through a great community, we're coming out of that and we're going to learn a lot."

The Mayor realizes that there are a lot questions in the community as to what happened in the home of Hydra Lacy, Jr.  But, he says people need to be patient.

Currently, there are three investigations going on: one at the St. Petersburg Police Department, one at the State Attorney's Office and one with the U.S. Marshals Office.

The Mayor wants to make sure that no one is second guessing the actions of Sgt. Tom Baitinger and K9 Officer Jeff Yaslowitz as they faced a gunman during a violent standoff.

"They did not enter that attic with the idea that they were in peril. They did it by the book, they made contact with the suspect. They had compliance, and they were communicating, so much so that they had every expectation that it was going to be a non-lethal arrest," says the Mayor.

The Mayor says that the officers had no idea that Hydra Lacy, Jr. had a gun in the attic that day.   The Mayor tells us that the men gave their lives to save others.

"The US Marshal and Jeff were very thoughtful in their processes in going into that attic. They made contact. They didn't just stick their heads up, they used mirrors and things like that so, and again, they had a compliant suspect that they were going to handcuff and you can imagine, the tight confines of an attic and places a firearm could be hidden," he said.

Something he's taken criticism for is tearing down the house of Hydra Lacy's widow, Christine.  He says it was a safety issue all the way around.

The Mayor told us, "Not once did I second guess, I did not take control of the crime scene, I don't have a degree in criminology. My instructions to those who are experts, after you've gleaned everything from the crime scene, from a public safety standpoint, we're going to take it down."

The Mayor says he spoke with Christine Lacy on Friday.   He says he will make good on his promise to "make her whole," after the house was demolished.

"We want to help her," he said, "She is in our thoughts.  She has several large dogs, and that is a housing issue. But, we are going to help her."

After Hydra Lacy was laid to rest Saturday, the Mayor had this to say about the family.   

"The Lacy family doesn't deserve to be ostracized, they didn't deserve any fingerpointing. I didn't talk with anybody in this community that is blaming the Lacy family for the acts of one.  No one faults the Lacy family. they are grieving the loss of officers, for the city," said the Mayor. 

The Mayor was also questioned about the decision of a senior city administrator, Goliath Davis, to attend the funeral of Lacy.   The Mayor says he didn't have anything to do with the decision, but he does support his staff helping a grieving family member.

The Mayor says he keeps in constant contact with the widows of the St. Petersburg officers, offering them support.  He says they are family now and will always be in his prayers.

Melanie Michael, 10 News

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