Man, 73, tries to hit city cop with car, rams APD unit
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A 73-year-old Atmore man, reportedly afflicted with an unspecified mental disorder, was arrested last Wednesday (February 24) and charged with five felonies after he tried to run down a city police officer with his car as an incident at a local bank escalated into a chase into Florida.
Lem Roy Sanders, of a Harris Street address, is charged locally with one count each of attempted murder and attempting to elude law enforcement for his actions during the apparent mental meltdown.
Sanders remained in the Escambia County (Fla.) Jail this week, under $150,000 bond, charged in the Sunshine State with three counts of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer.
Those charges were filed after he reportedly rammed his car into an APD vehicle when Atmore police and Escambia County (Fla.) sheriff’s deputies cornered him in the parking lot of a shopping center just across the state line.
APD Chief Chuck Brooks said he and most of his officers are familiar with the local man, as police have been called to investigate “suspicious person” or “nuisance” complaints against Sanders, who reportedly tries to strike up conversations or conduct arguments with customers at Burger King, the local post office and other places.
“We’ve dealt with him a couple of times before, but never anything like this,” Brooks said.
The latest interaction between Sanders and police began at United Bank’s West Nashville branch, where bank employees reported that a “disorderly” person refused to leave the bank’s property when ordered to do so.
APD patrol officers attempted to speak with Sanders, who was sitting in his vehicle in the bank parking lot, but he “fled away, nearly striking an officer with the vehicle” as they approached.
He headed for the Piggly Wiggly shopping center in Davisville, Fla., another place he frequents, and drove into the parking lot. As Sanders tried to force his way out, he “struck an unmarked APD police unit, causing damage, while trying to flee from officers.” Police were finally able to break the driver’s side window of his vehicle and take him into custody.
Brooks said the knowledge that Sanders was mentally unstable took a backseat to the safety of the public as the incident unfolded. He also indicated that Sanders knew what he was doing when he rammed the police pickup.
“He can say he didn’t know it was a police unit he struck, but he’s very familiar with us and with our vehicles,” the police chief said. “And, when a felony is committed, we have to do our due diligence and try to apprehend the subject, no matter who it is.”