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Lincoln firefighters

Firefighters examine the damage at 1634 Prospect St. after two parked vehicles were hit and went through the wall of the apartment building.

A U.S. Marshal emptied his magazine, reloaded his Glock .45 and kept firing at a Beatrice man — 19 rounds in all — before his gun jammed earlier this year, a Lincoln police detective testified last week.

The man, Thomas Sailors, drove away with shrapnel in his forehead, shot in his left hand and his upper-left leg, the bullet traveling through his right leg and lodging in his buttocks, said the veteran officer, Ken Koziol.

Police had no body-cam footage of what happened in the apartment building parking lot near South 17th and Prospect streets. But a police cruiser's camera captured what unfolded shortly after 8 p.m. on Jan. 5.

Koziol said it showed the stolen 2007 GMC Yukon Denali rock when U.S. Marshal Paul Keyes struck the Yukon's front bumper with the front of his unmarked pickup.

About 7 seconds later, the Yukon backed up, hitting the cruiser. Almost simultaneously, Koziol said, Keyes started firing. He said he couldn't make out words, but officers' voices could be heard yelling out just prior to the shots.

He said Lincoln Officer Max Hubka saw the reverse lights and knew he was in a dire predicament.

Fearing for his life, Koziol said, the officer dove into the driver's door of the cruiser, his feet being dragged on the pavement, leaving him with minor injuries to his legs.

The Yukon then hit a wall of the apartment complex.

More shots came 20 seconds after the collision. Keyes had reloaded, but his gun had a "stove-pipe malfunction," jamming after eight more shots, Koziol said.

When Sailors drove away, Keyes followed. But streets were icy, snow-packed, and a police commander called off the pursuit because of the dangerous conditions, he said.

Keyes, the marshal, died of cancer earlier this month.

Police didn't find a gun on Sailors or in the stolen Yukon when he showed up at the parking lot at Bryan Health soon after.

But several days later, someone found a starter pistol with blood on the slide along Sailors' likely path to the hospital. Police plan to have it tested to see if Sailors' DNA was on it, Koziol said.

The new details came out at a preliminary hearing Thursday in Lancaster County Court, where Sailors' public defender, Shawn Elliott, argued it looked as if Sailors was just trying to get away after the vehicle he was in suddenly was struck by a pickup, then someone started shooting at him.

There was no evidence he even knew a police cruiser had pulled up behind him, pinning him in, his attorney said.

"Wouldn't it be common sense to try to get out of that situation?" Elliott asked.

Koziol said he thinks Sailors had "every opportunity to give himself up, to not strike that vehicle."

He said the Fugitive Task Force had been on the lookout for Sailors to arrest him on a felony drug warrant when Keyes spotted him driving near the Nebraska State Penitentiary, followed and called for backup.

Sailors, 25, now faces charges of third-degree assault on an officer, theft by unlawful taking and operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest.

Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Jim Rocke said there was probable cause to allow all three charges to advance to district court.

"We don't have to show that he intended to hurt the officer, just that he intended the actions that led to the officer's injuries. The flee to avoid (arrest) is pretty obvious. As is the theft charge," he said.

Elliott asked the judge to dismiss the assault and fleeing charges, arguing there was no evidence Sailors' actions were directed toward the police cruiser, which they chose to position immediately behind the Yukon.

"It's also clear that the marshal, for whatever reason, struck the Yukon immediately without any attempt to contact the driver, and it seems a natural response that you might back the vehicle up," he argued.

In the end, Lancaster County Judge Timothy Phillips bound each count over, saying the cruiser had pulled up behind the Yukon with its emergency lights on.

"I don't know how anyone could not know a police officer was behind them," the judge said.

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