What an odd, evolving story about former Granite City Police Lt. Thomas Paul, who on Monday was charged with three counts of obstructing justice and one of official misconduct. As is so often the case, one charge related to the initial mistake, three related to the cover-up — what we might call the Nixon corollary.
Paul initially said he was off duty and in an unmarked city police car the night of Dec. 28. He stopped to check on a minivan driver he said was unconscious when someone got in his 2014 Silver Ford Fusion squad car, hit him with it and took off.
Six firearms, a police radio, Paul’s badge and bulletproof vest were all in the car, which was later found at an apartment building near Jennings, Mo. One of the six guns is still missing.
So with charges this week come more details: “With the intention of preventing the apprehension of (Lamonica) Henderson, (Paul) knowingly furnished false information” to Sgt. Jeff Grote, Chief Rich Miller and Officer Lori Gibbons of the Granite City Police Department.
Henderson’s record shows a string of petty crimes in both St. Clair and Madison counties as well as probation for failing to return a rental car. Hmmm.
If not a distressed motorist and carjacking, exactly what was going on in that squad car? Was Ms. Henderson a police Explorer working on a merit badge? Was Paul mentoring her as she worked to mend her ways?
We shall see as this case continues to unfold. Hold your breath hoping that sixth gun isn’t used in a violent crime.
One bright spot in this sad tale: Lori Gibbons is the wife of Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, so a special prosecutor was brought in from St. Clair County. St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly helped out with one of his assistants because the state budget limbo would have made it difficult to get a special prosecutor from the normal source, the state appellate prosecutor’s office.