2011 in Review: The day we lost one of our own

Larry Nehasil, EOW January 17, 2011, was the embodiment of a warrior

On the evening of January 17th, 2011, Officer Larry Nehasil and other members of the Livonia Police Department (Mich.) Intelligence Bureau were conducting a criminal surveillance of two brothers, Terry and David Bowling, who were suspects in a series of Home Invasions. The unit followed the brothers into Walled Lake, a suburb of Detroit in Oakland County, Michigan.

As the brothers began casing the neighborhood, they eventually selected a residence to approach. Terry Bowling remained in the car parked in front of the residence, while the other brother, David, knocked at the front door. When no one answered, David walked to the rear of the residence. At this point, Officer Nehasil volunteered to get out on foot to get a better eye on the rear of the house. Terry, the brother that had been sitting in the parked vehicle exited the car and began to walk up the driveway, pulling up the hood of his sweatshirt as he walked towards the rear of the home. As he reached the back of the residence he was seen reaching in a rear window of the home and conversing with his brother David, who was now inside of the residence. After several moments Officer Nehasil observed the brothers stacking property outside of the home. Larry communicated his observation to the rest of the team who were still in their vehicles maintaining a perimeter.

Terry was then observed walking back down the driveway toward the vehicle. The surveillance crew watched as Terry opened the hatch of the vehicle and then began driving in reverse up the driveway. As he was backing the vehicle up the drive, the garage door began to open.

Larry regularly participated in the LPD Fitness Incentive Training (PoliceOne Image)
Larry regularly participated in the LPD Fitness Incentive Training (PoliceOne Image)

Larry was a Fighter
When the signal was given, the team converged on the residence and attempted to block the escape of Terry who was now parked in the driveway. Seeing their approach, Terry tried to escape by driving across the lawns of the adjacent homes. This caused the mobile members of the unit to give chase and eventually “box” the suspect vehicle. Terry then bailed out of the vehicle in an attempt to flee on foot. Several members of the unit gave chase and tackled Terry. After a brief struggle, they managed to take him into custody.

While this was transpiring, David, who had been in the home, witnessed the activity going on in front of the residence and subsequently ran out the back through the garage. Officer Nehasil, being the only member on foot in the in back of the home, gave chase through the rear yard.

Because there were no eye witnesses to what transpired in the rear yard, we must rely on assumptions and investigations conducted at the scene.

At the rear of the yard was a wooden privacy fence, approximately six feet tall. This is where Officer Nehasil caught up with the suspect. Unbeknownst to Officer Nehasil was that the suspect, David Bowling, had acquired a .45 caliber semi-auto handgun from the residence he had just broken into. As the suspect reached the fence, with Larry on his heels, he turned and began firing. Larry was struck five times at point blank range, striking him in the leg, back, and buttocks. For many this would have been the end. Although none of the wounds were fatal, many would have given up and lay down.

Larry was a fighter, Larry was a warrior and Larry had fortitude. In spite of his wounds, Larry returned fire, shooting twice. The first shot struck the suspect in the abdomen, the second and what would be the fatal shot, struck David Bowling in his heart. Unfortunately, and many are aware, even though a fatal round to a vital area can cause death, it doesn’t necessarily cause immediate incapacitation. With oxygen still feeding the brain, David Bowling managed one last shot, which struck Officer Nehasil behind the ear and immediately, tragically, ended his life.

When the shots rang out, other members of the unit, who had been occupied with subduing Terry Bowling, quickly got on their radios and tried to reach Officer Nehasil. When there was no response, they began yelling out to him as they returned to the residence and ran towards the rear of the house. In the backyard, at the base of the fence, they found their partner, their brother, lying in blood covered snow with David Bowling lying partially atop of him. It was apparent to the officers at the scene that both had succumbed to their wounds.

Larry, the Officer
Senior Officer Larry Nehasil had served the Livonia Police Department for 20 years. Prior to that, he served briefly as a deputy with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department. After learning the number of years of service, one might assume that Larry was an “old timer” who would be better suited sitting behind a desk or some other assignment. However, Larry was a highly decorated officer because he was a tenacious road officer constantly on the prowl for criminal activity.

During one incident, Larry became involved in a pursuit of armed robbery suspects. Larry raced ahead and laid spike strips out on the freeway. The suspects avoided the sticks and continued at a high rate of speed. Larry was able to get back into his cruiser and catch up to the suspects as they exited the freeway. At the top of the ramp, Larry performed a PIT maneuver causing the suspects to lose control and crash their vehicle. As one of the suspects continued to flee on foot, Larry gave chase. The suspect ran up a driveway of a residence and ran around the front of a van parked in the driveway. As Larry ran around the other side, the suspect rounded the front of the van and came back towards Larry with an object in his hands and pointing it as if it were a firearm. Larry fired several times, but failed to strike the would-be assailant, he did however, convince the subject to cease his action and surrender.

Martin Donnelly, who is also assigned to the Intelligence Bureau and was a member present at the scene on that fateful day, had this to say, “Larry did not like giving up the search for persons attempting to escape on foot. On several occasions, after others had given up the search, Larry would locate suspects hiding hours later. He had a veteran approach and a rookie officer’s zeal to apprehend the ‘bad guy’.”

“Larry had no ego, it was never about him. It was always about the team. He was always willing to do whatever was needed to help the team succeed,’’ said Lt. Dan Mckeon of the Intelligence Bureau.

Tom Blauvelt, a friend and former partner said,”As the crew was loading up their car’s with gear, often Larry would be miles away already on the target... He was one of the most aggressive surveillance officers I ever worked with.” Tom said that this occurred so frequently that he one day asked, “Where’s Waldo?” and the nick name stuck with him for the rest of his career.

Larry was an unselfish, soft spoken, humble officer, who was highly respected by all of his peers. In addition to road patrol, Larry also served in the Special Operations Unit working crime suppression and fugitive apprehension. He was working a second tour in the Intelligence Bureau, narcotics and criminal surveillance, when he was killed in the line of duty.

Larry the Person
Larry stayed physically fit and enjoyed his friendships he made at the gym. He also enjoyed gambling on occasion and playing practical jokes on his co-workers. He greeted everyone with a big smile and had no enemies. “He was easy-going and very likeable as a person,” said Lt. Dan Mckeon of the Intelligence Bureau.

Curtice Caid — the Acting Chief of Police and Larry’s brother-in-law — said, “Larry’s career was very important to him and he had the ‘Cops Instinct’ to be at the right place at the right time, but his family took the top spot in his life. His wife, Linda, was his high school sweetheart and they had two sons. Larry enjoyed their companionship and support. I am so proud of Larry. Words cannot describe how much I and the rest of the family miss him. Beyond his wife and sons, Larry is survived by his mother, two sisters and his brother.”

His partners in the Intelligence Bureau had this to say, “As much as he loved his job, he loved his family more,” said Nicholas Heinonen. “He frequently talked about his trip to Mexico with his family and how he looked forward to spending more time with them. He was proud of his kids and how well they were doing in sports,” added Officer Nick Schroeder.

Another member of his crew, Andy McKinley, said, “Following Larry’s death, I can say with absolute certainty, that a person is truly defined after their death by the way they lived their life. The days following Larry’s death were a true testament of that, from people donating money, to letters written describing their experiences with Officer Nehasil. On one occasion, an unknown person whom Larry had arrested came into the Livonia Police Department to express his condolences and praise of Officer Nehasil for the way he was treated.”

Lastly, Karen Wyman, a secretary who works in the office with the members of the team said, “His nickname was ‘Waldo’. Now when I hear the phrase, ‘Where’s Waldo’? I will look towards heaven and know exactly where he is and know that he is smiling down on those who knew him and loved him. I feel blessed to have known him.”

Officer Larry Nehasil was what every officer should strive to emulate in their careers. Larry took care of himself, his family, friends and co-workers. He had no enemies and was a pleasure to be around. He was highly respected by his supervisors and his peers and he was a warrior to the end.

January 17th, 2012, marks the one year anniversary of Officer Larry Nehasil’s end of watch. Please take a moment to say a prayer for his family, friends and co-workers, as well as all officers who have given the supreme sacrifice to make this Country a safer place to live and raise a family.

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