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Hydra Lacy Jr.'s brother: Family struggles with questions in police shooting

The brother of Hydra Lacy Jr., who killed two police officers and injured a deputy U.S. marshal in a shootout last week, says he and the rest of his family are struggling with questions about how his brother's final hours unfolded.

Darrell Lacy, 38, says of all the Lacy siblings he was closest to Hydra, who was a year older. Late last week, Darrell viewed his brother's body — all 6 feet, 5 inches of it — trying to understand.

"My thought was that when I saw him he would be Swiss cheese," Lacy said Monday. The gunbattle involved more than a dozen officers and a hundred rounds, police have said. Lacy said he found two wounds: a bullet wound to Hydra's left forearm and a wound to his hip. Both appeared to have shattered bone, he said. The coroner has not released Hydra Lacy Jr.'s cause of death.

An internal investigation is continuing, police said Monday. At least 10 officers who fired their weapons in the Jan. 24 shooting have been put on paid administrative leave until they're cleared to return to duty. They haven't been identified. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office will determine whether officers broke any laws, said police spokesman Bill Proffitt. Authorities believe Hydra Lacy Jr. died from police gunfire.

"I think he bled to death," said Darrell Lacy. "I don't think it was an instant kill wound. I'm not a medical examiner, but I'm not a fool, either."

Darrell Lacy said that contrary to what has been reported, Hydra Lacy Jr. had been living at home with his wife, Christine, at 3734 28th Ave. S since he missed a court date Nov. 1 and became a fugitive.

Police have said Christine Lacy told them her husband was hiding in the attic when they showed up early Jan. 24 to serve a warrant. The two had a violent and chaotic relationship and twice got back together after fights that prompted arrests. Darrell Lacy said he told his brother to stay away from Christine, but love does strange things to people.

Darrell Lacy sought an injunction late Monday to prevent Christine Lacy from approaching his family. It was denied. She hasn't been in contact with the family, he said, but she works near where he lives and he believes she has been telling people she's afraid of the Lacys.

Christine Lacy hasn't responded to multiple requests for comment. She spoke briefly with television reporters last week, saying she felt "very sorry that this had to happen."

She posted on her Facebook page: "i am truly sry for all that has happened esp to the families that have lost their loved ones thx for all the love but plz send it it to the families."

Darrell Lacy said his brother gave away possessions to friends and family in the months before his death. He gave away his tools and sold his old pickup for parts. Lacy gave his brother his Florida identification, Social Security card and his bank card. He wasn't depressed, Darrell Lacy said, but seemed worried.

He said his family feels sorry for the families of Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz and Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and hopes the community doesn't blame the Lacy family for what Hydra Lacy Jr. did.

"We're not a favorite family with the city anymore," he said. "Hopefully we can mend this relationship."

He added that there's much to be learned about how the violence on Jan. 24 played out. Because the city demolished the house that same night, many questions may never be answered. Police still can't say which officers fired the fatal shots or at what point.

"People are asking questions. Why? What happened? Why was the house knocked down? Even people who say he's a bad person, even those who say he's an animal, they still want to know why this happened. It ain't about my brother no more. He's gone.

"I don't know what happened, but I want to know the truth."

He said Christine Lacy's lawyer contacted him last week and told him the family could claim Hydra Lacy's body if it would pay for burial, and if family members would not speak ill of Christine Lacy to the news media. Darrell Lacy said he refused to sign a document agreeing to the demands, but the body was eventually turned over to the family.

Other family members are scheduled to speak publicly about the shootings today in an interview at the headquarters of the St. Petersburg branch of the NAACP.

The Lacy family is preparing to bury Hydra Lacy Jr. this weekend.

Times staff writer Jamal Thalji and photographer Cherie Diez contributed to this report. Ben Montgomery can be reached at 727-893-8650 or bmontgomery@sptimes.com.

Hydra Lacy Jr.'s brother: Family struggles with questions in police shooting 01/31/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 1:54pm]
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