Lakemoor police officer fired after being hailed a hero

From hero cop to fired cop in only a year.

Now, a former police officer in northwest suburban Lakemoor is filing a federal lawsuit against her former department and its chief, alleging she was unfairly terminated because she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following a violent confrontation with an armed murder suspect.

"I just wanted to work," said Brianna Tedesco. "I just wanted to be who I was before the shooting."

Tedesco said she was stunned when she was fired as a Lakemoor police office only a year after being saluted for her bravery.

On Wednesday, Tedesco filed a federal lawsuit against the village and its police chief, demanding she be reinstated to her job with back pay and damages.

"They recognized what I did," Tedesco said. "But they failed to recognize the help that I need in the ways I was struggling."


Tedesco’s life changed in July 2018 when, on patrol, she spotted a suspicious vehicle parked in a wooded area. There was a man behind the wheel.

"I immediately knew something was wrong when he opened his eyes. They were soulless. They were empty."

The man gave her a fake name, and when she asked for identification, he pulled out a gun and thrust it against her head. The two wrestled violently over the gun for about 30 seconds, Tedesco trying to stop the suspect from pulling the trigger.

"I grabbed it and I pushed it down into his lap as far as I could," Tedesco said. "And we are struggling back-and-forth with the firearm."

That’s when a backup officer arrived, shooting and killing the man. The suspect, Kenneth Martel, was in the midst of a violent crime spree and was a wanted fugitive for a murder in Pennsylvania.

Tedesco received multiple commendations for her bravery and letters of thanks from Lakemoor schoolchildren. But she said that almost immediately she began suffering from PTSD.

"I knew I would experience change. I didn’t know how fast that would happen. I couldn’t close my eyes because his face was there. His gun was there."

After six weeks of leave, Tedesco returned to light duty at the Lakemoor police station, but says she was soon forced to go back on the street despite suffering from PTSD.

"Almost every traffic stop I made after that, I would pull aside and immediately start crying," Tedesco said. "Because I thought I was going to die."

Tedesco said her doctor told her she wasn’t ready to return to work. But when she asked her superiors for light duty or special accommodations, "I was told to pull my big girl panties up and get back to the street. I’ve had an officer hide behind a door while I was on light duty and try to scare me. I was told that if I got accommodations, they’d have to do it for everybody."

A year after the violent confrontation, Tedesco was given a letter saying she was being terminated. The department said she could no longer perform the duties for which she was hired. She applied for and received disability pay, which is less than two-thirds of what she was making as a police officer.

"She was fired because of her PTSD," said Dan Herbert, an attorney who filed the lawsuit on Tedesco’s behalf. "Her PTSD was directly related to this horrific incident that she experienced while on duty protecting the citizens of Lakemoor."

Herbert said they filed the federal lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act because the department and its chief failed to offer the time, training and accommodations Tedesco needed to get back on the street.

"She came face to face with the devil," Herbert said. "She confronted him bravely. And for them not to recognize the mental anguish and the post-traumatic stress disorder that would come to anyone in that experience – it was just shocking."

"It's finances to them that they didn’t want to invest," Tedesco said. "I was equipment to them that was broken."

Tedesco and her husband are expecting their second child shortly, and she’s now taking classes in psychology, hoping to be able to help other first responders in her situation.

"There’s a huge stigma in law enforcement, when an officer goes through something or is experiencing something, they’re afraid to go to their department and be honest about what they’re experiencing. Because they fear what I experienced."