Lexington officer assaulted by four men in gray van
ATTACK OCCURRED ON TRAFFIC STOP; SUSPECTS THOUGHT TO BE HISPANIC
By Steve Lannen
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER
A Lexington police officer was back on duty last night after a traffic stop turned violent the night before.
Officer Donnie Salmons, 32, suffered minor injuries after being attacked on Todds Road, not far from the Clark County line. He was punched and kicked for several minutes, police officials said at a news conference.
Other officers spent yesterday looking for a gray Chevy Astro minivan and the four men who fled the scene late Wednesday night.
Shortly after 11:30 p.m., Salmons noticed the vehicle on Todds had no license plate, so he pulled the minivan over about a mile east of North Cleveland Road.
The men got out of the vehicle and quickly walked toward Salmons' police cruiser, Police Chief Anthany Beatty said.
Salmons got out and drew his service weapon, then holstered it after he realized the men weren't armed. However, the men apparently disobeyed his commands to stop and continued toward him.
The officer grabbed for his pepper spray and was able to spray the driver, but some of the spray also went into Salmons' face blinding him, Beatty said.
Salmons later told police he thought he was on the ground for six minutes and was kicked and punched in the head and upper body before the men fled. He was wearing a bulletproof vest but suffered some scrapes and bruises, Maj. Barry Cecil said.
Salmons eventually called for help, but backup was not immediately on the way because the officer had not given any indication he needed assistance when he first pulled the vehicle over, Cecil said.
During the attack, Salmons' shirt was torn in several places. The shirt was sent to the police crime lab to better determine whether a weapon was used, Cecil said. If it is determined a knife or other weapon was used, the suspects could face more serious charges than assault, Cecil said.
Salmons told police it appeared the men did not understand English. Spanish-speaking police officers searched for the van and the men yesterday in and around farms in eastern Fayette County.
It is also possible the men are from Clark County because they were headed that direction, Cecil said. Police in surrounding counties as well as the Kentucky State Police were notified.
Salmons joined the police department in 2003 and has been on permanent duty nearly two years. He was not giving interviews to the media yesterday, Beatty said. He said Salmons handled the situation as he was trained to do.
"We could be talking about deaths here instead of suspects," Beatty said.
In 2005, there were 62 reports of assaults against Lexington officers. In 2006, there were 89 such reports, Beatty said.
Here are the descriptions of the four Hispanic men as provided by police. Anyone with information about the case or who sees the gray Chevy Astro involved in this case is asked to call (859) 258-3600.
Suspect No. 1: 25-30 years old, 150-180 pounds, black hair past his shoulders, black mustache, wearing a gray and red flannel shirt.
Suspect No. 2: Short, black hair, appeared to be in his 30s, wearing a gray sweatshirt with "Kentucky" on it.
Suspect No. 3: Mid-20s, wearing a black leather jacket.
Suspect No. 4: Mid-20s, wearing a hooded, flannel jacket.