Original article no longer available
By LES STEWART, Staff Writer
Aug 21, 2003
A city man who ran down a police officer with his car last year thanked the officer yesterday for not shooting him during the attack.
Kevin Creegan of 923 Hauck St. was sentenced yesterday to 111/2 to 23 months in Lebanon County prison for crashing into Lebanon police officer William Lebo with a minivan, wrestling with him on the ground and grabbing at the officer’s service revolver on the night of July 2, 2002.
After he pronounced the prison sentence, Lebanon County President Judge Robert J. Eby ordered Creegan released on parole because he had already served the minimum time in jail. Creegan was in prison for nearly a year, from July 2 last year until June 26, when he pleaded no contest to charges of aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person and his bail was reduced.
Creegan will also be on state probation for an additional eight years. He was fined $2,000 and ordered to pay restitution of more than $24,300 for damages to the police cruiser and computer, as well as Lebo’s medical bills and lost wages. The medical bills alone totaled more than $10,000.
As part of the plea agreement, an attempted homicide charge and additional aggravated assault counts were dismissed.
Lebo, now a sergeant, consented to the agreement, said Jennifer Gettle, first assistant district attorney.
“I feel terrible for what happened,” Creegan said yesterday, thanking the officer for not shooting him that night.
Lebo had stopped a vehicle in the 700 block of Walnut Street when Creegan, driving a minivan, sped through a parking lot and headed toward him. The van hit Lebo, pinning him against his cruiser and badly injuring him.
Creegan then got out of his vehicle and struggled with Lebo in the street, attempting to wrest the officer’s gun away from him. Despite broken bones in both legs he had suffered when the car hit him, Lebo managed to get off the ground and was lying on top of Creegan when several passers-by came to the injured officer’s aid.
Lebo suffered a broken right leg and left ankle. He was hospitalized for three days, and the injuries kept him off the job for about three months. Eight days after the incident, Lebo attended a ceremony in city council chambers to receive a promotion to sergeant.
After yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Creegan walked over to Lebo and shook his hand. Lebo smiled during the brief encounter in the courtroom.
Creegan had led a law-abiding life until his medication dosage was changed, defense attorney George Matangos said.
Matangos provided Eby with a lengthy report from a doctor, hired by the defense, who examined Creegan’s medical records.
Creegan was trying to get a gun to kill himself the night he attacked Lebo, Matangos said in June, when Creegan pleaded no contest to the charges.
Creegan was taking a prescription medication used to treat depression and anxiety, Matangos said, adding that he believed the medication caused Creegan to act the way he did that night.
The attorney commended Lebo and said he acted courageously. It was obvious, he said, that Lebo’s first concern was for safety of the citizens in the area of the incident.
Gettle said the incident shocked many people, who wondered why someone with no criminal record would attack a policeman. The doctor’s report explains it, she said.
The judge told Creegan that he was not the usual type of defendant who appears for sentencing. About 50 people attended the hearing in support of Creegan, and dozens of letters of support were also written to Eby.
“You have one heck of a support system,” Eby told Creegan.
“It’s obvious to them … that he is not the person who acted that night,” Matangos said.
The judge said his first reaction after reading about the incident was that it was another instance of someone not caring about the effects of their actions on other people.
“In your case, it doesn’t fit,” Eby said.
But the incident did seem to foreshadow a more recent spate of violence against police officers, Eby said.
In recent months, a city policeman was injured when a man rammed his pickup truck into the officer’s city police cruiser, and two officers were injured as they arrested two men wanted by police. On Memorial Day weekend, three officers were injured when they tried to break up a crowd of 30 to 40 youths gathered on a northside street corner.
“These are special people,” the judge said of Lebo and other officers. “They step into areas where most of us don’t want to go.”