"It's like a bad dream," says family of accused teen cop killer | News
CLEARWATER, Fla. - He was only 16 years old when the crime happened. Now, a year later, accused cop killer Nicholas Lindsey faced a room full of 75 potential jurors in his murder trial.
Jury selection began Monday morning in one of the biggest cases ever for the St. Petersburg Police Department, one that sparked the largest manhunt in the city's history.
At the end of the day, roughly 30 potential jurors were excused. Many of them knew about the case due to the high level of media attention.
Those watching the case closely say picking a jury will be difficult since so many potential jurors followed the story of the fallen officer. Others have already formed an opinion of guilty for the accused.
Lindsey is accused of gunning down Officer David Crawford in February 2011 when the 25-year veteran stopped the teen for allegedly breaking into a car. Police say Lindsey then took off, leaving the longtime officer to die on the street.
Lindsey's mother says her son watched the manhunt unfold while the two sat in her living room at the Citrus Grove Apartments.
"Tell me if you did something," Deneen Sweat urged her son.
Lindsey was arrested within 24 hours. He told his parents during a taped confession, "I was scared. I started shooting. I thought I was going to die."
10 News spoke exclusively with the family of Nicholas Lindsey Monday afternoon. They wanted to set the record straight. We asked, "What would you say to people in St. Petersburg who call your nephew a killer?"
Pamela Lindsey, Nick's aunt, told us, "Nick's not [a killer.] Little Nick wanted to try and fit in. He didn't know what he was doing."
In an intimate and personal setting, Lindsey's family spoke openly about the pain of losing a child to jail and losing an officer in the line of duty.
Pamela wiped away tears and said, "My heart is torn. I haven't been to see him. I will not go up there. I don't read the papers or see the news when that part comes on. You just don't believe it. It's like a dream. You just don't believe it."
For the Lindsey family, it's a nightmare that never ends. They are sending out a message to Officer Crawford's family, one filled with sincerity, they say, and apologies.
They know nothing will bring the officer back.
Pamela said, "Like I said, their family is hurting as well. I don't condone it because I wasn't there. I don't know what happened. I feel bad for them."
Lindsey's mentor also spoke to 10 News about the times the two of them spent together. Cecil Odom is a community activist and leader. He also was the president of the youth football league where Lindsey played. "He went downhill overnight," Odom said. "It was fast. He was a good kid one day and the next he was a tough guy."
Odom talked about mentoring children. "If one kid can be helped, that's my total thing. If one child can maybe not go that route by something I say, that's where we are with that."
Odom felt like he had a positive influence on the teen when they spent time together at Odom's wife's picture shop, Miz Daisys. Lindsey would help take out the garbage.
"I hope in some kind of way he's able to go on with his life. He made a mistake, if he did this. I don't know, I wasn't there. But, he's not a bad kid, not a bad person. Every one of us has made mistakes before. That doesn't make us a bad person. Nick's not a bad person at all," Odom said.
Potential jurors will return to court in the morning. The trial is expected to last a week.
Only two uniformed officers will be allowed in court at a time, and no memorial t-shirts will be allowed. The judge did not want the jury influenced in any way.
Lindsey is accused of first degree murder and faces life in prison if convicted. He is the first person in two decades to stand accused of gunning down an officer.
St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon is expected to attend each day of the trial.