ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) – The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office says two Pennsylvania State Troopers were justified in the April 15 shooting on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
District Attorney Heather Adams says the Troopers were justified in the shooting after the driver struck one of the Troopers during a traffic stop and fled at a high rate of speed. It’s not clear if the driver was shot, but officials say the fleeing vehicle was hit by multiple bullets.
Troopers had attempted to initiate the traffic stop after seeing two vehicles, a Dodge Durango and a Jeep Grand Cherokee, traveling speeds of 120-125 MPH around 11:35 p.m. The traffic stop was initiated approximately 15 miles from when the vehicles were originally spotted near turnpike mile marker 273.2.
During the stop, the Dodge yielded and pulled over while the Jeep continued only to be stopped after the Trooper boxed it in with his vehicle.
As the Trooper approached the Jeep, he reported seeing the driver looking around with what he described as a “panicked” look and then the front wheels of the Jeep turn left toward his direction. The Trooper reportedly requested the driver, a black male in his 20s with facial hair, produce a driver’s license and then repeated this command. The driver did not produce any documents. The Trooper then reached into the vehicle and turned off the push-to-start ignition.
The driver asked the Trooper why he turned the vehicle off and then restarted it and put the vehicle into gear. The Jeep began to move forward and struck the trooper one his right side. The Trooper drew his weapon and fired three shots at the driver. The Jeep accelerated away and the Trooper reported returning his gun to the holster when he heard several shots being fired.
“District Attorney Adams ruled Trooper 1’s use of deadly force justified as the driver of the vehicle clearly placed Trooper 1 in apparent danger of death or serious bodily injury by illegally fleeing a lawful traffic stop and striking the Trooper as he fled.”Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office
The second Trooper had approached the Durango and noticed the vehicle began to pull away when he heard gunfire. The second Trooper fired seven consecutive and rapid shots at the fleeing Jeep while believing his partner had been injured by the vehicle or had been shot by the Jeep driver.
Additional troopers attempted to initiate traffic stops near the Valley Forge exchange, but the Jeep and Dodge did not yield. The Jeep continued onto I-76 E and the Dodge continued on I-276 E.
Trooper 1 was transported to Ephrata Hospital for treatment of right shoulder pain and was diagnosed with a right shoulder strain as a result of the incident.
The vehicles involved were later recovered in a Philadelphia garage and were processed. The Jeep was struck by bullets in five areas: the rear windshield which had been replaced after the shooting, the right bumper, the driver’s side front fender, the outside wall of the front driver’s side tire, and the driver’s door.
The Dodge was not struck nor did either Trooper attempt to fire at the Dodge.
The District Attorney’s office says a review of the MVR footage established the following timeline:
- Approximately 46 seconds expired between the activation of lights/sirens and the vehicles coming to a stop
- Approximately 10 seconds between stopping the vehicle and Trooper 1 requesting a license
- Approximately 5 seconds later Trooper 1 turns off the Jeep’s ignition -the Jeep restarts approximately 3 seconds after
- Trooper 1 requests a license twice more and orders the operator to put the Jeep in park twice; this all occurs while the Jeep is restarting, taking approximately 3 seconds
- As Trooper 1 orders the Jeep to be parked a second time, the Jeep starts to lunge forward
- Within approximately 3 seconds the first shots from Trooper 1 are heard, lasting about 1 second
- Within approximately 2 seconds after Trooper 1’s shots, Trooper 2’s shots are heard, lasting about 2 seconds
- As the last shot is fired by Trooper 2, Trooper 1 enters the cruiser and begins to pull forward
- Overall, approximately 30 seconds elapsed from the vehicles being completely stopped to the last shot fired
Neither of the Troopers was wearing body cameras and there was no other video available other than MVR footage.
A criminal investigation into the fleeing vehicles is ongoing, according to the District Attorney’s office.
Anyone who has information about either of the vehicles involved or information regarding this incident is asked to contact PSP-Lancaster, at 717-299-7650.