Nonprofit Group Aims To Assist Targeted Police Officers
TULSA, Oklahoma - A former cop who was wrongly portrayed in the media started a nonprofit group to support police officers around the country.
The group, Law Enforcement Advocacy Network or L.E.A.N., hopes to help officers they feel were wrongly targeted by the national media and was started by a man who says he was one of those targeted and it devastated his life."
Stacy Ettel used to work for the University of Florida police department as a lieutenant.
He worked with the athletic department, even becoming friends with then head football coach Urban Meyer. But in March 2010, Ettel's life changed forever.
He and his officers negotiated for 90 minutes with a mentally ill student who was allegedly full of medication and alcohol, was threatening to kill people and had a butcher knife and pipe.
Ettel and his officers finally went into the man's apartment. They shot him with two Tasers and four bean bag rounds that didn't work, then an officer fired two shots from a rifle.
The student survived and later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault but then the protests began. People made allegations that Ettel and the other officers were “racist cops” and even though he didn't fire the shot, as the commander, Ettel was let go.
"His life moved on, but mine didn't. My opportunities didn't, no charges, no discipline, nothing," Ettel said.
Ettel was cleared by the state's attorney, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education but still couldn't get a job. Urban Meyer hired him at Ohio State, but the minute the media called, they let him go.
"We forget about the role of social media,” Ettel said. “Now your name is destroyed, so when you try to get work, every HR department will google your name."
He's now a deputy and has created the nonprofit group to support officers who do the right thing but get ruined anyway.
"We're not supporting the officers using excessive force inappropriately,” he said. “We're not here to support that.”
Ettel started the nonprofit in conjunction with the website lawofficer.com, of which Tulsa Police Major Travis Yates is the editor-in-chief.