Lawrence man says he feared getting shot by police during standoff; jury finds him not guilty

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Louis Galloway said he would have gotten out of the car when officers told him to repeatedly for roughly an hour one night in April, but the vehicle’s broken passenger door didn’t open. Instead, he sat there with his hands in the air and a dog in his lap, both of them getting pelted with what’s essentially a powdered version of pepper spray.

A jury in Douglas County District Court on Wednesday sided with the Lawrence man, 33, after he testified that no officer had simply asked him to get out of the vehicle before they had readied firearms in his direction.

Galloway said he tried to explain that the passenger door wouldn’t open, but he feared that he’d be shot if he attempted to move into the driver’s seat to exit the vehicle the way he had entered.

Officers were familiar with Galloway from previous cases. When Lawrence police Officer Joshua Doncouse observed a vehicle that he knew to be associated with Galloway around 10:30 p.m. on April 23, he followed it from around Sixth and Rockledge to Fourth and Michigan streets, about a mile, before he stopped it for an alleged traffic violation. Doncouse knew Galloway had an outstanding warrant for his arrest at the time.

Doncouse’s body-worn camera did not activate as it was supposed to when he flipped on his lights to pull over the driver of the sedan in which Galloway was riding. He said that was because he had recently crashed his normal patrol vehicle, and the older vehicle he was using was not equipped with the updated system that causes the body cameras to turn on and back-record the 30 seconds prior to turning the sirens on.

Doncouse had the female driver step out of the vehicle. When he saw Galloway in the front seat and what he believed was an ax handle in the back of the vehicle, he stepped away and called for backup, he testified. He also brought his patrol service dog, Shadow, out of his vehicle. He did not attempt to tell Galloway to get out of the vehicle before another officer was there with a gun drawn to back him.

Jurors saw video footage that began some time into the traffic stop.

An officer can be heard telling Galloway multiple times to keep his hands up, not to make any sudden moves, that they had a warrant for his arrest, and to exit the vehicle. Galloway could be heard shouting something, but it wasn’t clear what, and the officer on the PA system told him multiple times, “Mr. Galloway, we can’t understand what you’re saying.”

Galloway testified that he was trying to tell them that he couldn’t open the door. He also couldn’t roll down the passenger side window to try to help officers hear him because the window was broken. And he was scared — he said he had seen a video online of a person trying to jump into a driver’s seat from the passenger seat getting shot by police.

He said that as a Black man, he felt very unsafe when there were just two officers behind him with guns drawn and a patrol service dog ready to attack. Now there were several more officers who had arrived on the scene, there was an armored vehicle police had pulled in front of the one he was in, there were spotlights pointed at him from all directions so he couldn’t see what was going on outside the car, and he was trying to make a plan to survive.

At one point, Sgt. Justin Trowbridge and another officer approached Galloway’s vehicle to lay down spike strips, which would have popped the tires if Galloway had attempted to drive the vehicle. Trowbridge was holding a shield and telling Galloway to keep his hands up, and asking if he was going to comply.


Prosecutor Adam Carey asked Galloway why he didn’t tell officers at that point that he couldn’t open the door. Galloway said the officers didn’t give him the opportunity — he was just trying to answer their questions and say he would comply.

Officers requested assistance from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies have a device that can deploy small canisters of OC, or oleoresin capsicum, powder — the same active ingredient that’s used in OC spray, also known as pepper spray. They fired two canisters into the vehicle.

Galloway said he was coughing and having trouble breathing. He wasn’t sure what had hit the car, but it sounded like sandbags, he testified on direct examination by his defense attorney, Hatem Chahine.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Hatem Chahine (left) is pictured during an Aug. 4, 2023 hearing in Douglas County District Court.

The officer on the PA system was telling Galloway he would not be shot, tazed or bit if he got out of the vehicle, but they had already fired at the vehicle, Galloway said.

When the pregnant dog heard the shots, she jumped into Galloway’s lap, scared, he testified. He grabbed a shirt to cover both their heads, and they were “coughing, barking, sneezing and drooling on each other,” Galloway said.

Roughly an hour total had passed when a team of officers approached the vehicle, and one used a baton on the makeshift plastic covering in place of the passenger side window, causing it to break. In a span of about 15 seconds, Galloway was out of the vehicle and on the ground being handcuffed.

All officers who testified said Galloway did not resist arrest once he was out of the vehicle, and that no officers were injured in the incident. They also said they never saw Galloway attempt to move into the driver’s seat or reach for the ignition. Galloway said there was no way he was going to attempt to drive the vehicle.

One officer said Galloway had resisted and attempted to pull his arm back into the vehicle when the officers were trying to pull him out the window. Galloway testified that he was disoriented from the OC powder and trying to get out the window himself while dealing with the dog in his lap.

“There’s a difference between resisting and struggling,” Galloway testified.


Police had publicized the incident on Facebook the following day: “Officers limited the threat to the public by ensuring the car could not be mobilized, utilizing the armored rescue vehicle and stop sticks under the tires. Officers attempted to use de-escalation techniques to talk the subject out of the car for almost an hour.”

Galloway said there was never a point in the incident that he felt safe. He said he understands that police have a job to do and they don’t want to get shot, but “neither do I.” He saw guns pointed at him throughout the whole incident, he said, and he was never told “peacefully” to get out of the vehicle.

It was not clear from testimony at the trial what happened to the dog who was in the vehicle with Galloway or what her condition was after her exposure to the OC powder.

The driver of the vehicle did not testify.

Galloway had been charged with interference with law enforcement, a level-9 or low-level felony. Jurors deliberated from just before 4 p.m. until just after 6 p.m. Wednesday before returning their verdict of not guilty.

Chahine and Galloway patted each other on the back as Judge Amy Hanley read the verdict.

Chahine said afterward that he and his client would let the evidence speak for itself, but “We’re just happy with the outcome.”

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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