Citizen helps off-duty Lexington police officer apprehend suspected shoplifter

kward1@herald-leader.comAugust 19, 2014 

A citizen helped a police officer arrest a man Tuesday night inside the Speedway at New Circle and Liberty roads.

Off-duty Lexington Officer Derrick Wallace was working security inside the Speedway about 8 p.m. when Chaz Medford, 30, walked out without paying for a soda and a lemonade, police said.

Wallace went outside and confronted Medford and had him come back in, but Medford then hit Wallace in the face and tried to flee, police Lt. Clay Combs said.

"A pretty significant struggle" ensued, lasting several minutes, Combs said. "The officer put out a personal alert ... he needed assistance pretty bad."

The scuffle started in the back of the store and ended up behind the cash register, and display stands were overturned.

Police said Wallace used his Taser on Medford several times during the struggle, but it had limited effect.

Joshua Davis and Nancy Otero said they had stopped at the convenience store when they saw the officer leading a man inside.

Once inside, Otero said, she saw Medford struggling and trying to get away.

"The cop was having a hard time," she said. "A lot of people started running out. ... I was terrified."

Outside the store, Davis said, he saw three male customers run out, and he decided to go in to try to help the officer.

"I'm like, 'Nobody's going to help him?'" he said.

Davis said that when he offered to help, Wallace, red-faced from the struggle, asked him to help hold down Medford while he got his handcuffs out.

"I just held him there," Davis said.

Medford was taken to University of Kentucky Good Samaritan Hospital to be evaluated.

Combs said Medford will be charged with first-degree robbery, third-degree assault and resisting arrest. Medford was wanted on unrelated warrants for first-degree robbery and failure to appear.

Before Davis left, Wallace shook his hand, thanking him for his assistance. Combs said police usually do not advocate citizens getting involved in their efforts to arrest people, but in this case, the help was appreciated.

"He was very tired after this, and he was very grateful," Combs said of Wallace.

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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