By Wayne Gates
A traffic stop near Mt. Orab turned into a pursuit with Brown County sheriff’s deputies getting shot at on Sunday, Sept. 16.
“The initial reason for the stop was an equipment violation on the vehicle. The response of the driver very quickly demonstrated that there was more going on than what was initially apparent,” said Brown County Sheriff Gordon Ellis.
Ellis said that Michael Hall of Mt. Orab initially pulled into a driveway on New Harmony Salem road for the deputy, but then took off when the deputy left his vehicle.
A press release from the BCSO said that Hall “fled through a yard and back onto the roadway. The suspect vehicle reached speeds around 80 miles per hour during the pursuit.”
The situation got more serious from there.
“When a second deputy entered into the pursuit the male driver began shooting at the deputies, striking the lead vehicle,” the press release said.
Ellis said that at least five shots were fired out the window of the Hyundai SUV, presumably by Hall.
“We recovered a pistol with at least five rounds spent. We found five empty casings,” he said.
“We also have one cruiser that has a bullet hole in the grille. The other rounds that (Hall) fired went somewhere. Imagine the risk of that. When you are firing from a moving vehicle, bullets still go somewhere and they may hit targets you didn’t intend to hit.”
Ellis told The News Democrat that he had high praise for the deputies involved in the pursuit, Corporal Eric Lang and Deputy Brandon Johnson.
“They were as professional and as focused as anyone could be. It was a tense situation and they handled themselves masterfully,” he said.
Ellis said that the new body cameras being worn by deputies in the field documented the pursuit as it happened.
“The one thing that the body camera does is give a context of what the deputies are dealing with. They are in a pursuit and you hear one of the deputies articulate that the suspect is continuing to shoot at the cruiser. That helps you understand the high stress environment that they are in. You can start to understand the risk that they are dealing with and yet they do exceptionally well throughout it,” he said.
Ellis also said that the decision to run from police officers is never a good one.
“Sometimes fatalities happen as a result of this. It’s just not worth the risk,” he said.
“When the lights come on behind you, it’s always better to pull over. Nothing good is going to happen when you try to flee a police officer. The best thing that can happen is that you are going to get more charges. The worst thing that can happen is you put yourself and everyone around you at great risk,” Ellis said.
He added that help from other law enforcement officers is never far away.
“Every police car has a radio. There are multiple police agencies out there that are listening to that radio. So when an officer or a deputy goes into a pursuit, it’s not just the individuals that are behind you, it’s all the other police cars that are moving in your direction,” Ellis said.
Hall is facing two attempted murder charges for shooting at the deputies behind him. Ellis said that decision will mean a lot more time behind bars.
“When you get an attempted murder charge, you have added years upon years in prison if convicted. Frankly, if you are willing to engage in that kind of criminal act while you are trying to drive a car and shoot at a law enforcement officer, you need to spend time in prison,” he said.
Ellis said that Hall had multiple visible injuries at the time of his arrest.
“The vehicle that they were in rolled over three times. The body camera showed the deputy taking (Hall) into custody. It would appear that he didn’t have a seatbelt on and those injuries are attendant to the actions that (Hall) took.”
Hall and his passenger, Daniel Allen, were both taken to Mt. Orab Mercy and treated before being released into the custody of the BCSO.
At press time Hall faces the following charges in Brown County Municipal Court:
Two counts of Attempted Murder, both first degree felonies; one count of Shooting Across Roadway. a third degree felony; one count of Failure to Comply With a Police Officer, a third degree felony; Having a Weapon Under Disability; a third degree felony; Resisting Arrest, a fourth degree felony; Improperly Handling a Firearm in a Motor Vehicle, a fourth degree felony; three additional counts of Having a Weapon Under Disability, all fifth degree felonies; and three additional counts of Improperly Handling a Firearm in a Motor Vehicle, all fourth degree misdemeanors.
Hall is in the Brown County Jail with a bond of one million dollars.
Allen faces one charge of Having a Weapon Under Disability, a third degree felony. He is in the Brown County Jail on a $50 thousand bond.