Sheriff blasts newspaper editorial scrutinizing fatal shooting by officer

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MOUNT VERNON, Mo. (KY3) - A recent editorial in The Monett Times fired up a lot of opinions from readers, including one from the Lawrence County sheriff.

"I had had enough of people bashing officers, telling officers that they did wrong, that they have done things wrong when they have absolutely no training, no background to explain how that officer did that or why that officer was there," said Sheriff Brad DeLay.

In the the paper's Viewpoint section, veteran reporter and news editor Murray Bishoff said all the facts aren't known yet, but "observations bear mentioning" concerning an Aurora police officer who shot a man suspected of driving a stolen vehicle. That man later died from his wounds.

The ordeal happened on Aug. 31, when a police chase spanning two counties ended shortly after the driver, Thomas Sekscinski, 38, turned down a private lane along Barry County Road 1165 near McDowell.

The officer pursuing him stopped and jumped out of his patrol. Sekscinski turned around and drove toward the officer, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. As the vehicle was approaching, the policeman fired 14 times, striking the driver through the windshield.

The reporter wrote the shooting should not have happened. He added that even though "the officer was justified in the act of self defense," he should have stayed in his car and "waited for backup."

Although it wasn't one of his deputies under scrutiny, DeLay penned an open letter in response to the article. In it, he stated, "The cry 'He should have waited for backup' is something we always hear. How nice would it be that we always have backup. We don't. Many times we are by ourselves. If we are not, the closest backup may be over an hour away. We don't have that luxury."

DeLay said he didn't regret writing the letter; however, he did say he could have toned it down a bit.

"He has the right to his opinion under the First Amendment, as I have my opinion," said DeLay.

The newspaper's publisher released the following statement to KY3 News:

"We do not believe it is the role of a newspaper to silence anyone's opinion. Our opinion page is a forum for diverse viewpoints on issues of the day, and we welcome opinions from all people who wish to speak their minds about this or any other matter that impacts our community."

To read the opinion piece in The Monett Times copy and paste this link onto your browser: http://www.monett-times.com/story/2338217.html

To read the sheriff's response to the editorial copy and paste this link onto your browser: http://lawrencecosheriff.com/message.php