Most serious counts dropped against dad rushing to the doctor Firefighter still to be prosecuted on charge of speeding, may face fine

July 11, 1996|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Prosecutors have dropped the most serious charges against a Reisterstown man who did not stop for police while rushing his sick infant daughter to the doctor Monday.

That means David R. Lemmon won't face jail time, though he might have to pay a fine.

Baltimore County Deputy State's Attorney Howard B. Merker yesterday said his office reviewed the police record and decided not to prosecute Lemmon on the two counts of fleeing and eluding arrest -- each of which carries a maximum one-year jail sentence -- or on the charge of resisting arrest. Lemmon will be prosecuted for speeding, which carries a $500 maximum fine.

"I sort of had a feeling it was going to happen, that charges would be dropped," Lemmon said. He added, "I did what I did for a reason, and I'd do it again."

His three-hour brush with the law began Monday morning when his 9-month-old daughter, Ashley, developed a 104.7-degree fever and was choking on her vomit. Lemmon, a city firefighter who was in uniform, rushed her to a pediatrician's office in Reisterstown.

Police say Lemmon went through a stop sign, traveled 50 mph in a 25-mph zone, and ignored an officer who was trying to flag him down.

When Lemmon parked at the doctor's office, he refused to show police his license and registration. Instead, he ran into the doctor's office -- from which he later was handcuffed and taken to the Garrison precinct.

Lemmon's actions were unusual, according to Merker, a county prosecutor since 1975. "I've never seen a situation like this," he said.

But, he said, those actions don't warrant jail time. "When you talk about fleeing and eluding, you're normally talking about someone running away from the police in a stolen car, or for some nefarious reason."

Letting Lemmon go free would be tacitly excusing his actions, said Merker. He added, however, that he does not want to send a message "that anyone [who] perceives that there's a reason to do something against the law can go ahead and do it."

Lemmon probably will face no penalties within the Baltimore City Fire Department, where he has worked 15 years and is at a northwest Baltimore station.

"If [his driver's] license is not suspended or revoked, there is usually not any penalty placed against the individual by the Fire Department," said Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres, a spokesman for the Fire Department. "I feel safe in saying [that] more than likely this would be a written formality."

Lemmon's trial for speeding will be held in Baltimore County District Court within the next three months.

Lemmon's lawyer, Joel E. Segall, was pleased that the most serious charges were dropped. Segall would like to see the speeding offense waived as well because "we believe our client was justified in his actions."

Merker pointed out that the whole thing could have been avoided had Lemmon obeyed police. "Had this guy stopped for 10 seconds, none of this would have happened."

Still, Lemmon said his decision was about caring for Ashley, who he said is "doing fairly well and is in a better mood."

Pub Date: 7/11/96

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