An attentive security guard confronts a rowdy group outside a bar. One of the group pulls out a gun and shoots the security guard, killing him. As investigators try to sort out what happened, they discover the security guard was wearing a body camera that recorded the whole event. Detective Chris leads a manhunt to apprehend the suspect.
The Detective: Detective Chris has been in law enforcement for 10 years. Over the course of his career he has been on patrol and served on his agency’s SWAT team. As a detective Chris has been assigned to property crimes, as well as violent crimes detective, which include crimes against children. Chris grew up playing sports and currently enjoys playing golf, poorly. He also enjoys spending time with his wife.Read Transcript
Chris: [00:00:03] And you can see him on video of the bar pulls out a handgun, and you just see him like, behind one of the girls. And you see him just kind of reach over the female and you just see these flashes, five or six flashes. Later when we got the body-worn video back, it had audio too. You might as well just have a cell phone camera out, and they shoot you.[Small Town Dicks intro]
Yeardley: [00:00:29] Hi, there. I’m Yeardley.
Dan: [00:00:31] I’m Dan.
Dave: [00:00:31] And I’m Dave.
Yeardley: [00:00:33] And this is Small Town Dicks.
Dan: [00:00:35] Dave and I are identical twins, and we’re retired detectives from Small Town, USA.
Dave: [00:00:40] Together, we’ve investigated thousands of cases. From petty theft to sex crimes, from child abuse, to murder.
Dan: [00:00:46] Every case on our podcast is told by the detective who investigated it, offering a rare personal account of how they broke the case.
Dave: [00:00:54] Names, places, and certain details, including relationships, have been altered to protect the privacy of the victims and their families.
Dan: [00:01:01] And although we’re aware that some of our listeners may be familiar with these cases, we ask you to please join us in continuing to protect the true identities of those involved, out of respect for what they’ve been through.
In Unison: [00:01:12] Thank you.[Small Town Dicks theme playing]
Yeardley: [00:01:20] Today on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:01:27] Hello.
Yeardley: [00:01:28] Hello, hello. And we have Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:01:32] Hello, Yeardley.
Yeardley: [00:01:34] Hello, David. It’s very good to see you.
Dave: [00:01:37] Likewise.
Yeardley: [00:01:38] And Small Town Fam. We are so pleased to welcome back a fan-favorite, Detective Chris.
Chris: [00:01:44] Hello.
Yeardley: [00:01:45] Hello, thank you so much for joining us today.
Chris: [00:01:48] Happy to be here.
Yeardley: [00:01:49] Chris, you have a really interesting case for us today. Tell us how this case came to you.
Chris: [00:01:55] I was in the Violent Crimes Unit for a few years, and I was assigned primary on this homicide case. It was my very first one. In hindsight, I think my sergeant did me a solid because the information that came out immediately was that there was probably some pretty good footage of this murder. It was late at night. I get the call, it was probably, around midnight maybe. My phone goes off and I look at it, and I see that it’s my sergeant. And I always know what that means when it’s that time of day, something happened, and we’ve got to go. So, I talked to him. He says, “Hey, there was just a shooting just outside of this bar. The suspect is unaccounted for. The people he’s with, they’re unaccounted for, but there’s some good footage of at least like a vehicle or two and maybe a couple of people involved. And then the victim, of course, unfortunately didn’t make it. And he might have footage as well.”
[00:02:59] And I asked, “What do you mean he might have footage?” And it was because this victim was a security guard that actually had a body-worn camera, like mounted on his chest, like a police officer would. Which, super rare. You don’t see security guards with body cameras. Throughout the investigation, I would learn more about the security guard, Greg. And Greg bought this body-worn camera on his own. He took his job really seriously and wanted to be professional. And a lot of times you go to crime scenes, and there’s a lot of cameras around the neighborhood or whatever.
Yeardley: [00:03:38] That are never working.
Chris: [00:03:39] Exactly. Yeah, it’s like 80% of the time, “Oh, yeah, that’s just a dummy camera,” or, “Oh, it’s not hooked up.” “I didn’t pay the subscription,” get that one all the time. So, then it’s like, “Okay, can I write a search warrant and track down this company even that’s going to be able to provide me with a video if it recorded at all?” So, it’s always a pain, and half the time at least it’s like not even working. Fortunately, though, Greg’s body camera recorded and retained the video. So, I respond to the scene with other violent crime detectives, when there’s a call out for homicide, like the whole team goes. There’s anywhere from 7 to 10 people that might show up to help out, so you kind of divide and conquer. And my task was really getting started on trying to figure out who the suspect is and where they might be headed.
[00:04:30] We got good intel from the bartenders inside that the video cameras outside the bar and inside the bar actually worked as well. So, we had multiple cameras from inside the bar, multiple cameras outside the bar, and we had the body-worn camera of Greg, our victim. So, just hit the jackpot with footage. And for a detective, especially one that has never been assigned primary on a homicide where someone’s life has been taken and now it’s your job to figure it out, for the family and for the victim, tons of pressure. And the newer you are to that role, the more pressure it feels like there is. I was feeling it. And then, once I had the footage, I was like, “Okay. [chuckles] I feel a little better.”[laughter]
Dan: [00:05:16] That is one of the advantages of technology now. There are cameras everywhere, and we use them every day.
Dave: [00:05:24] Yeah, you would assign a team to go around and just scour the area for any surveillance on buildings, Ring doorbells, any types of cameras, just hoping to get a glimpse of suspects either arriving or fleeing.
Yeardley: [00:05:38] You could actually get some usable footage, piecing all those puzzle pieces together.
Chris: [00:05:43] Yep.
Dave: [00:05:44] Absolutely.
Chris: [00:05:45] So, the whole team just starts tackling tasks, getting information from the bartenders. They had names of a couple people. The suspect, Tyler, he was with these two gals and another guy, one of them being his girlfriend, Lindsey. The bartender’s kind of knew who one of these people were. So, they gave us the name. And then, we had video of the vehicles, and eventually got license plates and stuff from the vehicles. And so, we were able to track down names of people. But Tyler wasn’t local. And so, he was a little bit more difficult to figure out who he was. So really, we were just following the breadcrumbs. We’re trying to get in contact with these females that were there, get their story and then move along the line of, “Tell us about Tyler. Who is he? Where’s he? How do we get a hold of him?” That type of thing.
[00:06:39] We’re able to download the video. Here’s the thing though, you show up to scene and there’s cameras, and everyone tells you that they’re working. That doesn’t mean you have the footage right away. So, we’re just like waiting to get this footage back. We were able to review the camera footage from the bar pretty quick. We could just watch it on the screen. But they’re going to download that for us to lodge it as evidence, and then we can take a harder look at it. But the body camera, we had to get our forensics team to work on that.
[00:07:08] The cameras outside the bar were great. Where this took place is a rough part of town, and it’s at two major intersections in the city and there’s a huge parking lot. That parking lot and those businesses, there’s a couple businesses there, that’s where Greg was assigned to work. His company was contracted by these companies to keep the riffraff out. Like, “We don’t want people loitering. We don’t want people hanging out at night when they’re not supposed to be there and our business isn’t open.” So, Greg was just doing his job.
Yeardley: [00:07:39] By himself though he was assigned to this–?
Chris: [00:07:41] Mm-hmm.
Yeardley: [00:07:43] That seems risky. Yeah, all the security guards, for the most part, that do patrol for businesses, they’re all by themselves. And that’s a close, tight-knit little community, I found out. I was shocked actually to find out how tight knit it was. So, they’ll get a hold of each other from time to time. If the hair on their arms is starting to stand up, they might call a buddy to come help them with something. But for the most part, they’re just doing patrol checks by themselves. They might call police if they really need help, but they try to handle their own business and get people to just leave property for the most part.
[00:08:16] What’s incredible though is this camera that’s facing the parking lot, it only covers a certain section of the parking lot. And it’s a big parking lot, and it was just like, I don’t know, I just feel it was fateful for Greg really, but also for me [chuckles] a little bit because I’m this new detective, it’s my first homicide. What the video camera captures is a dispute between Greg, Tyler, and Tyler’s friends. Tyler and his friends are leaving this bar, and they’re hanging out, they’re not leaving right away. And Greg pulls into the parking lot, and he rolls the window down. He’s like, “Hey, time to go, you guys need to leave. If you’re not in the bar, then you need to be gone.” Tyler doesn’t take too kindly to that. And he decides to mouth off back to Greg. Greg has been a security guard for quite a while. He can be a little rough around the edges, according to the folks that work with him a lot. And I bumped into Greg a few times when I was on patrol, and a lot of the cops that I work with actually knew who Greg was just because he worked that area, and he worked late at night. There’s not a lot going on at 2:00 AM, 3:00 AM. So, security guards will bump into cops, might just say hi, so people knew who Greg was, and he wasn’t going to take shit from anybody.
Dan: [00:09:35] I’ve had some really good interactions with security guards over the years. I’ve had some bad interactions too. But for the most part, they have their hearts in the right place and they want to do the right thing.
Dave: [00:09:45] My understanding is Greg was a competent security guard who knew what he was doing and he won’t take shit off of anybody. He’s not going to be the type of person who calls us on what we would consider to be kind of frivolous-type calls that should be handled by the security company.
Yeardley: [00:10:03] He’s out there all in, doing his job.
Chris: [00:10:06] Right. They start mouthing off with one another. Tyler starts to really come forward aggressively, walking towards Greg, and Greg’s not out of his vehicle. And Tyler, you can see him on video of the bar, pulls out a handgun, and you just see him behind one of the girls. You have basically now these two females trying to separate this incident, they really trying to hold Tyler back, and you see him just kind of reach over the female and you just see these flashes, five or six flashes. Later, when we got the body-worn video back, it had audio too. And so, you have video and audio on Greg’s chest that’s of this whole interaction, and you hear Tyler say something along the lines of like, “Oh, yeah, really, bitch?” like, “I’ll show you,” and hears bom, bom, bom, bom, bunch of shots. That video was just huge.
[00:11:05] The other videos would have been sufficient, of course, the bar videos. But to have a video of a victim that’s being shot, you might as well just have a cell phone camera out, and they shoot you. So, that video was just massive in the eventual trial. And there’s a big fight at trial about whether or not that video is going to be allowed. As Detective Dan and Dave will attest to, oftentimes defense attorneys will try to suppress evidence, but even parts of evidence. So, there was a big fight from the defense attorney to not allow this video to come into play because it was so egregious. It made their client look so bad.
Yeardley: [00:11:51] But he is bad.
Chris: [00:11:52] Right.
Dave: [00:11:53] But they’re going to argue, “It’s so prejudicial that my client is not going to be able to receive a fair trial.” And it’s like, “Well, maybe your client shouldn’t have just gone off and shot somebody.” It’s the defense attorney’s job. That’s what they’re paid to do. So, I always understand why they’re doing that, because as Chris said, it makes his client look so bad that he’s just like, “I’ve got to try. It’s a Hail Mary.”
Yeardley: [00:12:17] I guess my question though is if the jury doesn’t see that video before trial begins, then it’s simply entered as evidence, and that’s just evidence. If they were privy to it prior to trial, that would be prejudicial.
Chris: [00:12:30] Agreed. And suppression hearings are very interesting, because there is no jury at a suppression hearing. It’s just the judge. So, the defense attorney is just talking to the judge saying, “Look, this video is so bad that it is impossible,” like Detective Dave said, “to get my client a fair trial.” When the jury sees this, it’s done. What they’ll do, Yeardley, is they will– we’ll just use this as an example, we will allow the video, obviously, we know the video is going to be brought in, but we want the audio cut out and we only want the video to show the first shot.
Yeardley: [00:13:09] What?
Chris: [00:13:10] Yeah, they’ll try to minimize it as much as possible. The suppression doesn’t work. The full video comes in, and jurors are upset over it. The audio, not only during the shooting, but I mean afterwards too, like you don’t just die right away. And even if you’re unconscious, the human body does things and makes noises and things like that. So, it’s pretty traumatic.
Dave: [00:13:49] Was Greg an armed guard or unarmed?
Chris: [00:13:52] He was armed. That comes into play too, Dave. He had pepper spray. He had a firearm. What happened in the dispute in the parking lot is Greg saw Tyler addressing him and aggressing him, and he got really close. The girls are trying to separate it, and Greg could see that this was escalating and he pulled his pepper spray to try to deter Tyler. And Tyler brought a gun to that fight. Greg never pulled his handgun out. It was not a fair fight.
Dave: [00:14:28] And the test for self-defense, is Tyler pulling a handgun, is that a reasonable response to what Greg did? And Greg is again doing his job. He’s got the power to trespass people from a property. They remain unlawfully on the property after he’s told them that they need to leave, they’re now committing a crime and he would have the option to call the police. But you can’t pull out a gun and just start shooting somebody who’s holding a can of pepper spray.
Chris: [00:14:59] No, and that’s a good point. I think one thing I really like about you guys’ show is I think people learn a lot. Just because I’ve learned a lot from being a police officer of things I just didn’t know. You don’t know what you don’t know, and a lot of people think, “Oh, that guy came into my house. So, I get the right to defend my house,” and this and that. Reasonableness always comes into play in court. Reasonableness is probably one of the biggest words we deal with. And so, yeah, you’re spot on, it is totally unreasonable to fight, not only just a regular person, but a security guard who’s doing his job in a reasonable way. You don’t get to combat that with a firearm. Greg’s vehicle was a security-marked vehicle, his uniform was security marked. It was very obvious that he was a security guard, because that’s another thing that will come into court sometimes. Was he presenting himself as such? Or, was he just a random guy coming up that also seems like he’s an aggressor? If you’re doing your job, like Greg was, you have certain rights to perform that job, which is what he was doing.
[00:16:03] They get into shooting, and then they end up getting in a couple cars and just driving away. And we don’t have any more footage past that. But we had some names.
Yeardley: [00:16:11] Tyler and the girls split up, they get in different cars?
Chris: [00:16:15] Yeah, two different cars.
Yeardley: [00:16:17] How old was Tyler?
Chris: [00:16:17] Mid to late 20s, maybe, I think, young. And they ended up heading north, a couple of towns up from us. We ended up tracking down some names and we did some phone pings. In circumstances where you feel like there’s an ongoing threat to the general public, you can request phone pings and things like that. So, we were able to track down one of the girlfriends, Lindsey, through that route. And then, I actually ended up calling her the next day. People are really scared in those situations for numerous reasons. Even if you’re a witness, there’s a lot of people where their friend does something really stupid, and they start to think, “Am I going down for this too just because I was there? Am I going to get retaliation?” People are always concerned about retaliation.
[00:17:11] So, if the girl says, “Oh, yeah, this is who it was, this is where he is, go get him.” Are they concerned about him figuring that out and then going after her before he’s in custody or after? So, I say that because Lindsey was hesitant to give us super accurate information. That’s why it’s great to have really solid evidence in cases, because you can present that to people in a certain way when you talk to them. And then, they’re just like, “Oh, shit, yeah, I hear you loud and clear, and I see me in the video. So, this is what happened.” [chuckles] They’ll totally change their route.
Dave: [00:17:44] I’ve got a question. Just going back to the scene and the body cam, audio and video. Tyler, his clear reaction to Greg is to pull a gun and start firing. A lot of times that will shock the conscience of those who are right beside Greg or Tyler. What was the reaction on the audio or the video that you guys picked up from his cohorts?
Chris: [00:18:07] Yeah, they were terrified immediately. One gal just like erupted into hysteria, tears, crying, realizing what just happened. There was a male there, too. He just kind of scooped up one of the females and they just got in the car pretty quick. Tyler had to really work on his girlfriend getting her in the car to leave, because she was so hysterical, like in shock. Lindsey’s reaction was most significant because– I mean, it took a solid 30 seconds to a minute to even get her like at the car that they were trying to leave in, which is a long time after a shooting.
Dave: [00:18:51] Right. They hear the sirens coming in, and he’s like, “We’ve got to get out of here. Let’s go.”
Chris: [00:18:56] Yeah, he was yelling at her, screaming at her to get in, and they eventually made their way out. Yeah, but you’re right. It’s like shock and awe. People don’t believe it. You don’t want it to be as bad as it is.
Dave: [00:19:09] Yeah, I was working patrol that night as a sergeant when this call came out. And I remember listening to your agency’s radio traffic. And I remember when Greg was pronounced dead, I was like, “Holy shit. Are you kidding me?” Just the details that came out. I was like, “This is a problem.” And I remember we sent one of our canines to assist with an area search, thinking that video footage came out to show the vehicles leaving the scene that it was possible that we had a suspect on foot, so we had sent a canine over to your agency to assist.
Chris: [00:19:42] Yeah. We certainly weren’t sure where they went directly afterwards. In this part of town, our thought was like, they’re either going to bolt. They’re going to be gone-gone, like out of state, but there’s four of them. So maybe Tyler hides, runs, different city at least county, whatever. But there’s four people. So, we’re like, “Yeah, it makes sense why a canine would have come,” because not everyone out of those four people is going to want to be involved in the aftermath.
Dave: [00:20:09] Right. Like, “Let me out of the car. I don’t want to be a part of this.” So, you spoke to Lindsey on the phone?
Chris: [00:20:16] I spoke to Lindsey on the phone. And we spoke to this other gal, Courtney.
Dave: [00:20:21] What’d they have to say?
Chris: [00:20:22] Well, Lindsey was still pretty distraught, and skipping forward a little bit. Lindsey had some diagnosed mental disorders, according to her and according to her mom. Anxiety, bipolar, things like that that certainly don’t help a person in that situation communicate very well, was their angle, because our angle was, “Why aren’t you talking? We have the video. So, it’s obviously your boyfriend,” who she loves and cares about and all this. He’s going for 20 years.”
Yeardley: [00:20:53] How many days after the shooting where you speaking to Lindsey and Courtney?
Chris: [00:20:57] The next day.
Yeardley: [00:20:58] Okay. Did you find Tyler that next day as well?
Chris: [00:21:01] It really took a solid 48 hours to get him in custody. So, I think we were talking to them the next day, and then getting a plan and place to arrest Tyler. We had no real good intel that he was in this town a couple cities north of us. We just assumed he might be because we were in communication with Courtney and Lindsey, and we figured out where these gals were. So, the story turned into me having conversations with Courtney and Lindsey, and really putting the pressure on them talking to Courtney especially, like, “Hey, you can be in this case, or out of this case. It’s up to you. But it’s your words, I have to talk to you. And your hesitancy or whatever’s going on is doing you no favors. A guy was murdered in front of you. It’s a bad day for you, but it’s a much worse day for him and his family.”
[00:21:54] You have people that are witnesses of these crimes that sometimes, they just have a history of maybe not even being criminals themselves, but being associated constantly to those people, like people that are just in the drug world or in just the criminal world. They might not themselves have a whole lot of history, but they’re so used to the actions and the reactions of people like that, that they kind of react as suspects themselves, because they’ve just almost been trained to do so, just by attaching themselves to this part of society.
[00:22:25] So, I was really having to grill down on Courtney, to get her to clear her own name in the aftermath, because we see what happened on video, but we don’t know what happened afterwards. For all I know, Courtney helped ditch the gun somewhere. I don’t know. So, we need answers from everyone involved that isn’t a murderer. So, finally putting enough pressure on them to like come forward and also then like, “Okay, you can talk to me or I can put you in custody, because you’re obviously being uncooperative and I have the right to put you in custody to figure out what’s going on. You don’t have to talk to me by any means, that’s up to you.” But just having these conversations of helping people realize the severity, and that this isn’t something where they just get to go about their regular day when this other guy is dead.
Dave: [00:23:15] It’s just amazing. When you have to deliver that speech, you say, “I think you’re a witness, but you’re acting like a suspect. You make the choice. Where do you want to fall? Which side of the fence do you want to be on? If I was you, I would really want to be a witness in this and not a suspect, but that’s up to you.” The fact that people have any sort of struggle to come to grips with that, you’re just like, “All right, you are making horrible life decisions right now.”
Yeardley: [00:23:46] It’s so interesting, because it feels like a very Hollywood take on trying to get answers from a witness that you think like, “Well, it doesn’t really happen that way.” So, to hear you actually say that is kind of shocking.
Chris: [00:23:58] Again, it depends on who you’re talking to, and who they are and what responses you’re getting from them. And oftentimes, in these situations, you have people that get it that’s so severe. This isn’t like you’re snitching on your friend for doing like a drug deal. He just murdered a man.
Yeardley: [00:24:17] Right, in cold blood.
Chris: [00:24:19] Yeah, cold blooded. Absolutely. Sometimes, there’s just people, you have to hammer the reality into them. It took a while to get that piece of this investigation accomplished. After some conversations with them though, we did get some better information about maybe where Tyler was and there was indication of two different cities north of us, and then also where he might have worked, like, “He was a weed farmer, but he also does this and we’re not sure where he’s staying right now, but he has been staying at this marijuana farm.”
[00:24:56] Finally, being able to dial in a general location for him, we’ve just really drifted our resources that way. And finally, we got information from Lindsey stating that Tyler’s going to turn himself in, that he knows the heat’s on. He knows you guys know where he’s at. He’s super paranoid, like can’t walk outside of the house without thinking that we’re just going to scoop them up right then and there. So, the tactics kind of worked with the phone conversations of basically advising them like, “Hey, I know exactly where you are right now.”
Yeardley: [00:25:28] Advising the girls?
Chris: [00:25:30] Uh-huh.
Yeardley: [00:25:30] Okay, just to clarify so I know that I’m tracking. You are having phone conversations with Lindsey and Courtney, but Lindsey thinks that you actually know that she’s with Tyler, but you don’t know that for certain.
Chris: [00:25:46] Right. Tyler and Lindsey’s immediate assumption is we know the exact address, which isn’t the case, but the fact that they have that in their heads is great.
Chris: [00:26:13] So, the heat was on, and Lindsey was just having like full-blown panic attacks over this whole situation, and really worried about Tyler. He said that he was going to turn himself in. And so the conversations led down the road to, “You guys need to let us know the second any sort of location change happens. If a car’s coming down the road from that property that Tyler might be in, we need to know. We don’t want to do some takedown on Lindsey, or your friends or whatever. We need to know about Tyler’s whereabouts, and we needed to get him safely into custody. And by the way, where’s the gun? Is he still armed or not?” They said that he did still have the gun with him.
[00:26:55] And we’re still working cell phones at this point. We’re still working the cell phone angle of trying to get exact locations. And we do have a pretty good idea at this point. I mean, we’re in the same city as them. And I’d say we were probably within 500 yards of where they were located at one point. So based on that information, we put a plan in place. We got a couple SWAT trucks out there with like four guys per truck. We had a bunch of detectives in undercover vehicles out, placed inconspicuously. We had patrol officers from our city out there but we also utilized this other agency because we were in a different jurisdiction at that point. So, we contacted the other agency, let them know what was going on, and they were great. So, they threw a lot of resources at us, which was helpful.
[00:27:51] We essentially had this location pretty well surrounded. But I say that hesitantly because I mean surrounded in probably half a square mile surrounded, not like we’re outside this house, because we really don’t have the true exact location down yet. But we do know that we’re looking for a specific vehicle. It was a blue sedan, and then potentially a dark-colored SUV. We kind of had some make and models of those, and didn’t have exact plates, but knew what they’d be driving. And so, we were told that the plan for Tyler and Lindsey was going to be that Lindsey was taking him to go turn himself in at the police department. But we hear that all the time, all the time. And 90% of the time, it doesn’t happen.
Dan: [00:28:44] They’re just buying time.
Chris: [00:28:45] Right, exactly. Of course, in my mind, I’m like, “[scoffs] That’s great if that’s the true intention, my concern is I’ve got an armed guy that knows he’s wanted for murder. And his girlfriend who immediately in a cop’s head is like that’s a hostage. He is not going to care about her when push comes to shove.” You always are worried about the worst. Hope for the best, but expect the worst. So, we were a little concerned that now we have two people in this car potentially, and Tyler’s going to go turn himself in and he potentially still has a gun. So, that’s why we got SWAT out to help out with this potential takedown of a vehicle if Tyler is going to be in it. It kind of worked like clockwork. Tyler and Lindsey got in this little sedan and started driving down the road, and one of our detectives and undercover car said, “I think the car just pulled out the driveway at this address.” And sure enough, they headed south towards our city, presumably to turn himself in, but we weren’t going to let Tyler get quite that far.
[00:29:54] Once that comes out, we have a couple other undercover cars that kind of get behind them. And then, we have SWAT trucks that are really stepping on it to get up to where we were at. They weren’t in place perfectly. We had called them in from our city, and they had to get their guys geared up and get them ready. So, they were a little bit delayed. But what ended up happening is the other jurisdiction, the other department, they ended up doing a traffic stop with their regular patrol cars and doing what we call a high-risk traffic stop, which is really common with stolen vehicles or vehicles that are driven or occupied by known dangerous people. So, it’s multiple patrol cars methodically taking their time to safely get each individual person in the vehicle out so you can do it as safe as possible. They did a high-risk traffic stop on the car and got Lindsey out first. And she was just a total wreck, hysterical. And then, Tyler was cooperative, took commands well, and we’ve safely put him in custody. And then, I stood by with him for about 45 minutes waiting for a patrol car to come collect him from our city to transport him back so that I could interview him.
Yeardley: [00:31:14] Did he talk to you during that 45-minute period?
Chris: [00:31:17] Tyler, almost immediately lawyered up. But what was interesting about Tyler is he knew what he did was wrong, and he knew it was a huge mistake that he had made, one that he would probably regret forever. I say that because there’s some people that just have no remorse. The moral compass is so skewed that you just never see it, you never hear it, and they just don’t care. Tyler told me just because of the severity of what’s going on with this deal, like, “Should probably have an attorney with me.” That is a pretty clear indication of somebody saying, “I want a lawyer. I’m not going to talk to you without one.” Sometimes, people want to talk, but they don’t think that they should. Sometimes, people don’t think that they should talk, and they’re just going to lawyer up right away when in actuality, their version of the story would actually help them out quite a bit.
[00:32:09] Tyler was interesting, because I could tell he really wanted to talk because he felt bad. By this time, it’s like almost a couple of days have gone by. He’s sobered up a little bit, certainly sobered up compared to where he was at the bar. But what happened in my minimal conversation with him was Tyler made a lot of statements on his own. So, I knew him immediately saying he probably needed an attorney was sufficient for me that I wasn’t going to ask him any questions. But what Tyler kept doing was saying things like, “It was just really crazy, man. Things got really bad really quick,” or he would say, and this isn’t verbatim, but the gist of it was like, “He came up to us and I just had to protect myself, man. I didn’t know what he had, I thought he reached for a gun. And so, I had to meet a gun with a gun type of thing.” He kept saying these things on his own.
[00:33:00] What I was doing in response, which was a learning lesson for me, I think I’m this savvy detective that knows the interview process. And I love interviews. It’s by far my favorite part of the job, like I love talking to people, criminals, witnesses, whatever, but getting a suspect in a room and talking to them or whether it’s on the street or wherever, just having a conversation with them and doing rapport building, it’s my favorite part of the job. And so, here I am, like, “I think I’m really good at that.” [chuckles] And I’m say things like, “I know, man. It seems like things got pretty out of hand that night,” or saying things like, “Sometimes, good people just make bad decisions. I have no information that describes you as a bad person to me. Everything I learned about your over the past few days, none of it’s like, ‘Oh, this is a bad guy. Sometimes people just make really bad mistakes.'” So, I was saying things like that.
Yeardley: [00:33:56] Dan and Dave are smirking and nodding their heads.
Chris: [00:34:00] Well, sometimes it’s the context, it’s the way that you say it. Sometimes that flies and sometimes it doesn’t. The judge said, “Well, you know as a person, as a human being, by you simply saying those things, he’s going to respond,” which is true. That’s why I’m saying it. [chuckles]
Yeardley: [00:34:17] [chuckles] Even chiming in without asking any specific questions, the judge felt that you had violated Tyler’s rights when he said just prior to that, I think I need a lawyer.
Chris: [00:34:30] For some stuff. Only when I made a statement that the judge then said, “Well, no, you understand that Tyler’s going to respond to that.” They suppress some of those responses, and only the statements that he made freely when they came directly after I made some sort of comment like that. So, in my mind, is this junior detective, I’m like, “I’m not asking them questions. I’m just being a guy on the street with them.” And the judge didn’t see it that way.
Dave: [00:34:58] For me, some of the best training I’ve ever received was in a suppression hearing. You see what the argument is from the defense side, and you see what the legal justification is. And you see what evidence is likely to be suppressed, what is way out of balance. That helped me incredibly with the interview process, especially when somebody, they’re shaky on their invocation of their rights, that I have the right to ask clarifying questions, when somebody says, “Well, I don’t have an attorney.” And you’re like, “Well.” That’s not a clear invocation of your rights. Like, “I won’t speak to you without my attorney.” That’s very clear. When somebody says, “Well, do I need an attorney?” and we say, almost without fail, “I can’t give you legal advice. You’re entitled to one, but that’s going to be your decision.” It’s going to be some sort of variation of those phrases.
[00:35:52] Suppression hearings, invaluable. I used my experiences in suppression hearings, especially when it comes to statements, to help train some of our younger guys, when you become a patrol sergeant, and you see an interview out in the field, and you let them know, like, “Hey, that’s probably going to get shoved up your–” or, “No, you can keep going.” Those are opportunities. And I used to say it all the time when I was doing evals on police officers that I supervised, this officer would benefit greatly from more exposure to the trial process, especially suppression hearings. You learn constantly.
Chris: [00:36:35] Yeah. I guess for the listeners’ sake, the suppression hearing comes before the trial. And what that is, is the process before trial where the defense attorney says, “Here’s all the evidence that the state of whatever has against my client. And here’s all the evidence that I’m saying isn’t valid, isn’t legal, and should be wiped away, and the jury should never see it or hear it.” So, these suppression hearings are massively important. It was interesting in this one, because the judge had already seen all the details to the case. And sometimes, I’m like, “Is the judge just throwing this defense attorney a bone here?” Because he knows this is a slam dunk, like the video, the audio everything’s coming in.” And even some of Tyler’s statements to me that were clearly freely made on his own volition. He made a lot of statements. Like bringing the gun out, he said that he thought Greg had a gun, “So, I had to shoot him.” That was something that he said it was just on his own. And sometimes I just wonder in the back of my head, like, “Really, you’re going to suppress that? Really?” [chuckles] Like, “Are you just throwing them a bone here?” But yeah, it was though. It was a huge learning lesson for me pretty early on in my detective career.
Dan: [00:38:04] Just going back, does Greg get called there specifically for Tyler and Lindsey and that group, or is he just on patrol, and he comes across them in the parking lot?
Chris: [00:38:14] He’s just on patrol doing his job.
Dan: [00:38:16] So, they hadn’t been trespassed from the bar, kicked out of the bar, 86ed, nothing. They’re just on their way out and loitering.
Chris: [00:38:23] Yep, just a totally random meeting.
Yeardley: [00:38:26] Lindsey and Courtney and the other guy, and Tyler, I’m assuming the night of the shooting, they were drunk. Were they also high on drugs?
Chris: [00:38:35] They said that they weren’t. No one involved wants to claim to be using illegal drugs while a murder happened. So, everyone claimed that it was just alcohol.
Yeardley: [00:38:46] Did they have a history of drug use, though?
Chris: [00:38:49] Tyler had a little bit, but no, he didn’t have a ton of history. None of them really had a lot of history. There was like minor stuff. But it was clear that that night, alcohol was part of the issue. They’re all pretty intoxicated, it seemed, from the videos at the bar and what was going on in the parking lot. One of the gals was doing cartwheels in the parking lot trying to defuse the situation. It was very odd.
Dan: [00:39:10] Did you guys recover the gun?
Chris: [00:39:12] Yeah, we did. I did a search warrant on the vehicle that they were driving. And Tyler had disassembled it in like a Ziploc baggie. And no joke, he told me that he was going to walk into the PD with it in the bag.
Dave: [00:39:27] But disassembled?
Chris: [00:39:29] Yeah, like, “Are you sure? You’re sure that wasn’t going in the river on the way to the PD?”
Dave: [00:39:33] Right.
Yeardley: [00:39:33] So, even with all that really vivid, damning evidence against Tyler, he went to trial? He didn’t take a deal?
Chris: [00:39:41] I mean, with the murder cases, you just don’t see it really. They’re not going to get a deal typically, especially when it’s clear evidence. So, they figured, “Why not just fight it? I’m not going to hurt myself at all.” Whereas usually when people go to trial, and it’s like, “Dude, how are you going to trial on this? The evidence is so damning,” usually, those plea deals are going to save them some time. So, we’re always shocked that they take it to trial, because if you go to trial, you’re going to get the max potentially. Well, in murder, you’re typically just getting the max anyway.
Dan: [00:40:12] And I think sometimes, the defense attorney and maybe at times the prosecutor is this suppression hearing is basically throwing spaghetti at the wall, and let’s see what sticks. And that determines the strategy going forward.
Chris: [00:40:25] Really good point, because there are plenty of suppression hearings, where if they get some evidence that they really are confident, they think they can get some evidence wiped away, that could have a massive effect on the trial. So, then post suppression hearing, you might have some different conversations with your client, if you’re a defense attorney.
Dan: [00:40:41] Yes. I’ve been involved in cases like that where, after the suppression hearing, everyone leaves the room and you see the defense attorney look to the prosecutor and say, “Hey, can we go have a chat? That deal that you offered two weeks ago, is that still on the board?” And inevitably, the DA says, “Oh, no, we’re past that.”[chuckles]
Yeardley: [00:41:00] Right.
Dave: [00:41:01] The deal never gets better.
Yeardley: [00:41:03] Did Tyler speak on his own behalf? Did he take the stand at his own trial?
Chris: [00:41:08] No, he mean-mugged me the whole time I was on the stand. When you’re in court, you’re telling a story to the jury, it’s the jury that really matters. So, I try to focus my attention on them for the most part, but you can’t not look at this guy, when you’re in trial and you’re on the stand, you’ve got to look at the bad guy, and he’s just mean-mugging me. I haven’t had many people do that, especially in these circumstances. Like, “You did this yourself. How are you honestly sitting there looking at me like I’m the asshole?”
Yeardley: [00:41:35] So that shred of remorse that he expressed on the side of the road, like, “I didn’t mean to do it. I thought he was pulling a gun. I had to defend myself,” all out the window?
Chris: [00:41:44] Oh, totally changed his tune. Yeah.
Dan: [00:41:46] Well, he’s had months to stew on this too. So, just a few days after this incident, he’s probably thinking one way, and he probably does maybe feel some genuine remorse. But now, he’s been sitting in jail. And you just keep thinking about, “Man, that detective,” and certain things just set you off, and you focus your anger on those things.
Dave: [00:42:10] What was the jury’s reaction to seeing the body cam video from Greg?
Chris: [00:42:14] It was bad. I mean, it’s a bad video.
Dave: [00:42:18] One of those where the jurors kind of look, “Why are we here?”
Chris: [00:42:21] Yeah. Eventually, they don’t look. They see enough and you can’t avoid hearing it. You don’t see people over there plugging their ears. But the video was pretty telling of what was going on. It was a little gory, to be honest.
Dave: [00:42:36] Yeah, that’s difficult.
Chris: [00:42:38] But from our perspective, this is incredible evidence What’s done is done. We can’t bring Greg back. So, let’s hammer this guy with as much as we can do. You’ve got to do the investigation as best as you can to get Greg justice and his family. His poor family, they’re left in the wake of Tyler’s violence, and Greg’s never coming back. I say that because it’s just definitely one of the ways I think that people in law enforcement easily push through the gore and the death and the this and that. Not only is it part of the job, like that’s a pretty cliche thing to say, but it’s part of solving the case. It’s part of bringing justice to the front of the courtroom. But the jury has never seen that, most likely.
Dan: [00:43:24] I’m guessing a pretty brief recess before they reached a verdict.
Yeardley: [00:43:28] Yeah, how long were they out?
Chris: [00:43:30] Minutes. Certainly, well, under an hour.
Dave: [00:43:33] Enough time to take a bathroom break, grab some water, and vote.
Chris: [00:43:37] Yeah.
Dave: [00:43:38] Did Tyler give any sort of statement at his sentencing?
Chris: [00:43:42] No.
Dave: [00:43:42] Asshole to the end.
Chris: [00:43:44] Totally. Yeah. I’m always interested in jail calls after the fact. They’re almost as interesting as before, but there’s a sense of relief as a detective. It’s like, “All right, this case is done. I did it. It’s over.” There’s a sense of relief. But I always go back just to see is this guy going to finally come clean? To his family or whoever, there’s all these different circumstances in different cases, I’m always interested in what their reaction is going to be or perspective moving forward. And no, he was an asshole through and through.
Yeardley: [00:44:18] So, even after the trial, he never called his mother and said, “Damn, I lost this one.” Nothing?
Chris: [00:44:25] No. He was just frustrated with the whole process. And Tyler’s big thing was he’d tried to blame it on PTSD. So, it was his training and what he’s trained to do for his military experience, because he was in the military. Just another guy that claimed to be this military monster that is just so good at his skill and so tactically trained that he had no other option, but to draw his firearm and he’s so accurate because of all of his great training that yeah, he was just going to stop the threat because that’s just what he’s been trained to do.
Dave: [00:45:03] How many rounds did Tyler fire?
Chris: [00:45:05] Seven. I think it was a .45.
Dave: [00:45:08] The contrast to when people say, “Well, why did the cop shoot the person so many times?”, and you’re like, “Well, there were seven officers with their firearms pointed at the guy. Each of them fired three rounds,” that adds up very quickly. But to stand over Greg, and just dump a bunch of rounds into him. I’m guessing Greg fell to the ground after round number one.
Chris: [00:45:30] It was very close. Yeah.
Dave: [00:45:32] Just to continue to shoot him is totally unreasonable.
Dan: [00:45:36] The major piece of evidence in this case is Greg was armed, but his gun is still in his holster.
Chris: [00:45:40] Huge, right?
Dan: [00:45:42] That matters.
Chris: [00:45:42] Yeah, it totally matters. And it’s incredible to think that Greg actually had the wherewithal to progressively take appropriate steps in dealing with this person.
Dan: [00:45:54] He has clearly got some training.
Chris: [00:45:57] We were talking earlier about how this security community, all these security guards, it’s a pretty tight-knit community. And at Greg’s funeral, this group of security guards from all these different companies dressed in their best. And they all stood during the service on the sidewall because there wasn’t a lot of room to sit. They also saved a few seats for my partner and I and sergeant who played a big role in the case so that we could sit up with the family at this funeral service, but there was probably, I would guess, like 20 to 25 security guards that showed up for Greg’s funeral service and paid their respects and stood at the wall, kind of like on guard almost. They just shared that common interest in that profession. I just thought that that was kind of neat that all those folks showed up and took the time out of their day to show up to his service. And the way that they did it was pretty cool.
Dan: [00:46:51] Like their own Honor Guard.
Chris: [00:46:52] A little bit. Yeah.
Dave: [00:46:53] Greg was married?
Chris: [00:46:55] Greg was married. Yeah.
Dave: [00:46:57] Who delivered the death notification and how did that go?
Chris: [00:47:00] Sergeant Tim did, and it was brutal. We stayed in contact with her. They lived together. Greg went to work six days a week, I think, it was and made ends meet for her. Age is all relative, but they were at retirement age, should have been. So, it’s tough to see somebody at any point in their life have it taken away from, but it was unique and kind of tragic in its own way to see Greg’s life taken away kind of later in life when we feel like, “Gosh, man, he should have just been able to relax and enjoy his time with his wife for their remaining days together.” And now, she has nothing. He’s gone. And he did have some other family, but it was really just her and him.
Dave: [00:47:48] Tyler had an opportunity when he was sentenced to show a little bit of compassion and grace, and never took the opportunity.
Chris: [00:47:59] Yeah.
Dave: [00:48:00] And the other three that were with Tyler, none of them got charged with anything?
Chris: [00:48:04] No, no. It took them a while to come around, but they ended up being a pretty big help to us. It was just frustrating to have to grill so hard on them.
Yeardley: [00:48:12] Well, Chris, what a case to cut your teeth on as a homicide detective.
Chris: [00:48:16] Yeah, it was an interesting one. They all are. They’re all tragic. But it’s always nice to be able to reach the end of them with the slight silver lining of being able to take somebody into custody for that and get some amount of justice and closure. Really, that’s all it really is. It’s just closure for the families. Nobody wins. Everyone loses.
Yeardley: [00:48:35] Yeah. Thank you so much for bringing that to us today.
Chris: [00:48:39] Thanks for having me.
Dan: [00:48:40] Thank you.
Dave: [00:48:41] Thanks, Chris. Let’s golf soon. Bye.
Yeardley: [00:48:43] [chuckles] [music]
Yeardley: [00:48:53] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and co-produced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Soren Begin, Gary Scott, and me, Yeardley Smith. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor, the Real Nick Smitty and Alec Cowan. Our music is composed by John Forest. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin. Our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
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