Jeff Young and Brad Lancaster never crossed paths during their careers with the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department.
But the two men — killed in the line of duty 28 years apart — shared a profession that vows to never forget.
And on Monday, the strength of that vow was demonstrated by dozens of police officers who joined Young’s widow in asking Kansas prison officials to keep Darryl L. Lewis, who was convicted of killing Young, behind bars.
“When I come here, I’m backed up by KCKPD and numerous law enforcement entities in this country who don’t want or need another cop killer on the streets,” Kathleen Young told members of the Kansas Prisoner Review Board.
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At Monday’s public comment session were many men and women who worked side by side with Lancaster, a police detective who was fatally shot May 9. Many wore black mourning ribbons across their badges.
But while Lancaster’s death provided a recent reminder of the danger faced by police officers, Monday’s session was about Jeff Young and the possible release of Lewis.
Lewis, now 47, was in the midst of a crime rampage on Nov. 10, 1988, when he drove up to a police roadblock manned by officers, including Young.
Instead of giving up, Lewis drove straight at Young and hit him. The 29-year-old officer suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him comatose for nine months until his death on Aug. 1, 1989.
Lewis was convicted of second-degree murder in Young’s death and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
He first became eligible for parole after serving 10 years of the sentence, but he has been denied release several times since then.
The board will meet with Lewis next month before making a decision on his release.
Kathleen Young asked the board to pass Lewis for parole consideration for the maximum 10 years allowed by Kansas law.
“Paroling Darryl Lewis would be a mistake,” she said. “If you deny his parole, you never know whose life you’ll be saving by keeping him in prison.”
Along with her statement, Kathleen Young presented a petition with signatures of about 2,600 people opposed to parole for Lewis. She said residents of 44 states and several foreign countries signed the petition.
She was joined Monday by two of her sisters, Theresa McBride and Lisa Stinnett. About 100 officers and relatives of police officers stood silently behind them as they spoke.
McBride said Lewis “would stop at nothing to get away” on the night he ran over her brother-in-law.
“Now 28 years later, he’s still trying to get away,” she said.