A woman who was inside an off-duty Granite City police officer’s squad car when it was stolen in December was on felony probation at the time.
The officer, former Lt. Thomas Paul, is facing charges of giving false information to police when he reported the theft of his squad car. The charges accuse him of trying to prevent the apprehension of the woman in the car, Lamonica Henderson.
St. Clair County prosecutors confirmed Tuesday that Henderson is on probation for a theft charge.
Henderson, 24, had been convicted of felony theft for failing to return a 2013 Hyundai Accent to Enterprise Leasing in Swansea.
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Henderson was captured after the leased car ran out of gas on the side of the road, according to police reports. The case lingered in St. Clair County Court for two years before Henderson was placed on two years of probation on Nov. 23, 2015, the case record shows. Justin Whitton was her defense lawyer. The probation was called “Second Chance Probation” and gave Henderson the chance to keep the felony, her first, off her record if she successfully completed probation.
Just over a month later, Paul was driving his 2014 Ford Fusion squad car on North Street near Illinois Route 3 when it was stolen. It was just after 6:15 p.m. on Dec. 28. Paul told police he got out of his car to check on a man slumped at the wheel of a minivan. Paul told police that he heard his car moving from behind the van.
Granite City Police Chief Rich Miller later said there was a woman inside the unmarked squad car when it was stolen. That woman was identified as Henderson in the official misconduct and obstruction-of-justice charges filed against Paul on Monday.
Henderson was not in the custody of police at the time the car was stolen, Miller said.
Miller declined to comment on Henderson’s involvement.
Police tried to electronically track the stolen cruiser, but lost its signal in the downtown St. Louis area. The car was recovered by St. Louis County Police on Dec. 29 after they received a tip from an anonymous caller.
St. Louis County police responded to the area of Wallington Court and Ridgehaven Lane about 1 p.m. on Dec. 29, according to St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman. The car was unoccupied. Granite City Police were contacted and the car was towed, Schellman said. All but one of the guns was recovered from inside the car.
Miller said Granite City police found inconsistencies in Paul’s statements and turned over the investigation to Madison County Sheriff’s Department. On Monday, Special Prosecutor Dan Lewis charged Paul with three counts of obstruction of justice and one count of official misconduct.
The charges stated “with the intention of preventing the apprehension of Lemonica Henderson, (Paul) knowing furnished false information” to Sgt. Jeff Grote, Miller, and Officer Lori Gibbons, who is the wife of Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, who asked for a special prosecutor in the case. The official misconduct charge is based on providing false information on an employee report of injury form.
Paul retired in the midst of the investigation. His attorney, Robert Elovitz, did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.
Henderson has not been charged in connection to the case. She could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Henderson, of the 1400 block of Doris in Cahokia, was charged with retail theft in Madison County. Collinsville police arrested Henderson on Feb. 1 on a charge of retail theft and criminal trespass to property, both misdemeanors. Henderson was charged after police said she took less than $300 worth of clothes from Walmart at Collinsville Crossing.
Henderson’s relatives declined to comment.
She posted $150 for bond in the theft case and was released.
Henderson is currently barred from entering the Casino Queen, Walmart in Cahokia, Walmart in Collinsville and Enterprise Car Leasing, according to court documents.
As part of her probation in the St. Clair County theft case involving the leased car, she was ordered to get a job, not break the law and not possess firearms. No probation-revocation request has been filed in her case.
Whitton, Henderson’s attorney, said he has not been contacted by Henderson since the car case.