Medical costs keep accused shooter out of jail

Medical costs keep accused shooter out of jail »Play Video
YAKIMA – The man accused of opening fire on Yakima police with an assault rifle is a free man - for now. Lance Nanamkin was shot by police several times in that exchange of gunfire. His injuries are severe and his medical bills are in the hundreds of thousands. If he's arrested the city takes on those bills.

KIMA cameras were rolling as Lance Nanamkin allegedly fired at officers several times after the stolen car he was driving crashed in a downtown Yakima neighborhood. Nanamkin was the only one injured in the shoot out, hit six times - twice in the head.

"What I understand is, Mr. Nanamkin is in a wheelchair, he needs help to do basic bodily functions - to eat,” said Prosecutor Jim Hagarty. “He does have a soft spot and is wearing a helmet."

And his medical problems are just getting started. If the city arrests him now, those medical problems and bills belong to you, tax-payer.

"Because you're paying for that medical, you're taking officers off the street or you're not replacing open positions, now that's an issue of public safety,” said Hagarty.

"Everybody has a powerful reaction that if someone has a shoot out with police that this is a person that needs to be in jail no matter what, however, the bigger picture, it could cost enough to make a difference between us hiring several police officers, the picture comes into focus,” said Chief Copeland.

But that clarity doesn't ease the sting of letting someone with the violent potential of Nanamkin just walk. It’s a hard pill for police, the city and the prosecutor to swallow.

“Considering the numbers...it was a no brainer,” said Coepland.

"It's tough to put anybody who is alleged to have assaulted police, got in a chase, it's alleged it's a stolen car, stolen firearm, he is a convicted felon - yes, it's difficult to put him back out of the streets,” Hagarty said. “I drive the same streets. But, is he going to be a danger in a wheel chair? With one arm? With a (head injury?) Anyone can pose a risk no matter what their condition is, but we think there's a minimal risk with him."

That risk will be cleared once Nanamkin's medical problems are addressed. That's when the long arm of the law will once again reach out and he will be charged.

The medical bills Nanamkin already racked up will be covered by the state. As KIMA told you first, Nanamkin had a lengthy criminal record, including felony assault and burglary before this run-in in august.