Man wronged in past by police saves officer from burning car
Daylan McLee (AP)
There was a boom, then the house trembled. Daylan McLee thought for a minute it could have been a small earthquake before a relative came in and said there had been a car cruiser accident outside the apartment in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, about 45 miles south of Pittsburgh.
McLee ran outside and pulled an officer out of the mutilated patrol car as flames spread across the cabin. Police officers and others have attributed McLee to rescuing the officer after the Sunday evening crash.
"I don't know what happened to me, but I opened the door and brought him to safety across the street," McLee said Monday.
Protests against police brutality after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, which has swept the nation for weeks, have created tensions between the police and the communities they serve. They have exposed serious mistrust of the civilian population and frustration of the police officers with whom they are painted too broad a brush. But for McLee, the problem broke through the bigger questions about race and policing. It was about saving a life.
Uniontown Police President Thomas Kolencik broke his voice when he told WTAE-Pittsburgh on Sunday that the department was grateful that McLee was nearby when the crash happened.
"Daylan actually said," I'm not going to let him die, "Kolencik told the television broadcaster," There are just no words to describe, you know. "
Several of Jay Jayley's relatives thanked McLee on social media on Sunday and Monday, noting that the officer was operated on for a serious leg injury after the accident.
McLee said Hanley's sister called to thank him, along with a handful of officers and even the chief of police.
The 31-year-old said it wasn't a difficult decision to help someone else. But even some of his close friends wondered if he was hesitant about his previous interactions with some police officers.
"No. There is value in every human life. We are all children of God and I can't imagine just seeing someone burn," he said. "No matter what other people did to me or other officials, I thought," This one Guy deserves to come home to his family safely. "
McLee filed a lawsuit against four Pennsylvania State Police officers for illegal arrest in late 2018 after spending a year in prison for fighting in front of an American Legion bar in March 2016.
McLee had rushed to the bar in Dunbar, Pennsylvania, after his sister called and said she needed to go home because she was drinking and an argument had broken out. When McLee arrived, he disarmed a man standing in the parking lot with a gun and threw the gun aside.
At least one soldier shot McLee when he fled. The soldier said McLee had a gun pointed at him twice, but security footage showed how McLee disarmed the man, quickly threw the gun away, and fled when shots were fired.
McLee, a black man with tattoos on his neck and arms, and twisted dreads that go below his chin, spent a year in prison before a jury cleared him of the charges after reviewing the video. It was a year away from his children and a year from his mother, who was ill at the time. She passed away last year.
McLee had another run-in with officers a few months ago when he ran from a porch after civil and western officers approached with guns drawn. He said they hadn't announced they were officers, and he stopped running and put his hands behind his head when they shouted that they were police officers.
He said he was accused of escaping and opposed to the arrest, but said that during the arrest, an officer kicked him in the face through a fence and split his lip. He said the use of violence had been caught on a surveillance camera and he was planning to fight the charges.
But McLee emphasized the forgiveness and said he couldn't blame every police officer for bad interactions with others.
"We have to work on our humanity ... that is the main problem of this world. We are not sure how we should get up or become equal, and so I was not brought up. You learn, you live, you go on and I became always taught to forgive big, "he said." You can't base yourself on an interaction you have with a person every day of your life. "
McLee's lawyer Alec Wright said he was not surprised that his client had acted quickly and without exhaustion.
"Over the course of his life, Daylan McLee has had several unjust encounters with police officers just because of the color of his skin," said Wright. “These encounters make him the perfect candidate to hate and annoy the police. But that's not Daylan ... The answer is not to ignore human life; The answer is to accept it for everything it is. This is daylan. "
Police said official McLee, who helped with the rescue, was flown to a West Virginia hospital where he was operated on and recovering. McLee said he found after the crash that he had spoken to Hanley maybe three weeks earlier when the officer was on patrol.
“Then I realized that I had seen him. He speaks to people; he says hello; He is not an officer who molests someone. He told me the heat would come for us, ”he said.
McLee has a 13-year-old son, Avian, that he wants to teach, not judging anyone by the color of his skin, the job he does, or what others might say about him, but by people as individuals.
"Some people may think I look intimidating ... and I can't hate the soldier who shot me for what he doesn't know," said McLee.
"I don't want to be called a hero. I just want to be known as a person who is an upright man. No matter what or where, just an upright person," he added. "And I hope that (this one Soldier) sees this and knows that he was forgiven. "
Uniontown police did not comment on the crash or McLee's actions on Monday. Questions should be directed to the Pennsylvania State Police, which is investigating the crash. Calls and emails to a Troop B spokesman were not returned.
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