Officer not indicted after firing shots at fleeing suspect

HAMILTON — 

A Butler County grand jury found no wrongdoing in the actions of a Hamilton police officer who fired shots at a fleeing vehicle after the driver allegedly struck another officer with his SUV last week.

Eric C. Wilson, 36, was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence, driving under suspension and outstanding warrants after the Sept. 19 incident. Bond was set at $20,000 in Hamilton Municipal Court, where is case was continued today until Oct. 25.

In June, West Chester Police said they were looking for Wilson, a suspect in a June 6 theft at Meijer on Tylersville Road. Wilson was also charged with holders through the Fairfield Police Department and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Hamilton police tried to question Wilson at about 6:15 p.m. on Sept. 19 because he was a suspect in “several recent criminal acts,” according to police.

After being stopped in the 600 block of South Seventh Street, Wilson attempted to flee in his vehicle and struck Officer Sean Figley, police said. Officer Wyatt Arnold opened fire and hit Wilson’s vehicle, police said. Wilson was not injured by gunfire. The vehicle crashed, and police took Wilson into custody.

The case was presented to a grand jury on Wednesday. There were no indictments returned.

“Officer-involved shootings, even if it is a miss, they are going to be going to the grand jury,” said Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser.

He presented the case personally, and several experts testified, including a police training officer and the sergeant who investigated the incident.

“In this case there was a serial fleeer,” Gmoser said. “He knew that the police officers in Hamilton have a very hard policy in not pursuing traffic violators in a car chase because they don’t want innocent victims to be killed.”

When officers finally located Wilson, he was in a backyard, Gmoser said.

“When the police officers approached him, one officer had his hand on the passenger door, Arnold was on the other side of the car and this fellow hit the accelerator, leaped over a curb … the car is rolling over,” Gmoser said. “As the car is rolling over, the police officer, Arnold, sees his partner going down and thinks that his car is going to crush him in the process, so he opens fire. And that is totally within rules and policy in the defense of another.”

Gmoser said the vehicle, a Equinox, was the weapon.

“You don’t get to run over a police officer without getting shot,” Gmoser said.

Wilson, who was treated for minor injuries suffered in the crash, told police he was “under the influence of cocaine, meth and marijuana,” according to a police report. He was the only person in the vehicle. He remains in the Butler County Jail.

Figley, 28, an officer since April 2015, was treated and released from a local hospital, police said. Arnold, 31, an officer since January 2014, was placed on administrative leave internal investigation. Both officers are now back to work, according to Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit.

Bucheit said Wilson’s decisions created a heightened level of danger in the situation.

When the officers pulled up to the backyard, Wilson got back into the rental vehicle and at one point looked like he was going to surrender, Bucheit said. That is when Figley and Arnold were in the process of taking him into custody. Instead, Wilson accelerated and knocked Figley to the ground.

Arnold fired nine shots while believing his partner was going to be run over, Bucheit said.

There is a department prohibition on firing shots from a vehicle or at a vehicle unless deadly force is warranted, Bucheit said.

“The officer acted properly in using deadly force for protection of the life of his partner, who was in danger by this individual’s actions,” Bucheit said.

“These two officers are exceptional examples of the outstanding men and women of the Hamilton Police Department who put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep our city safe. I am thankful those officers are back to work and doing well. And I am glad this guy’s time on the run endangering our community is over.”

Other charges Wilson has faced include theft, failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, obstructing official business, resisting arrest, criminal trespass, and failure to stop after an accident on public roads or highways, probation violation and driving under suspension, according to the Butler County Jail records. https://www.journal-news.com/news/crime–law/hamilton-officer-not-indicted-after-firing-shots-fleeing-suspect/f0FnpRLKQlgMqHOeeDvWvM/

Man pulled over for 8th DUI does splits during sobriety test

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – A man suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol did the splits instead of his field sobriety test, according to Sterling Heights police.

The encounter was contentious with the man, who went between slurring, to belligerence and even threats. Michael Joseph Axelson, 53, took five attempts to complete a Breathalyzer test

In order to prove that he wasn’t drunk, Axelson did the splits. However, when he got a clean Breathalyzer test, he tested over three times the legal limit.

Police recently released dashcam video. His rap sheet goes back to 1985 from Michigan to Nevada and back. He’s been accused of drunken driving, had a suspended license, drove with a suspended license, more drunken driving convictions, and failure to obey traffic laws.

Reports indicate this is Axelson’s eighth drunken driving incident. https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/man-pulled-over-for-8th-dui-does-splits-during-sobriety-test

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