Two officers dragged by car during search
Two Morgan County policemen were dragged more than 25 feet when a Paw Paw man jumped into his vehicle during a police search last Wednesday and put the car into reverse.
Morgan County Sheriff's Deputy C. H. Cobern and Paw Paw Police Chief Brian Sites were dragged by the open door of the vehicle and sustained cuts, abrasions and bruises during the incident, according to Morgan County Chief Deputy Vince Shambaugh.
Sites suffered a cut to the knee and knee pain, while Cobern had minor lacerations on his right hand and right leg. Paw Paw Emergency Medical Services treated the two officers on the scene. Sites and Cobern remained on duty, he said.
"Sites and Cobern's injuries are minor and not life threatening, but things could have been much worse," said Shambaugh.
Cobern and Sites had been on foot patrol near the Paw Paw Townhouse Apartments in a drug investigation around 10 p.m. on March 21. The officers saw resident James Spencer, age 50, of 192 Amelia Street, throw something into the open window of his burgundy Chevy Monte Carlo and acting suspiciously, said Shambaugh.
Spencer allegedly told the officers that he did not have anything on him and consented to a search. Cobern and Sites began patting Spencer down, but before they could finish the search, Spencer shoved both men backwards and jumped into his car. Spencer was ordered to stop, but he threw his car into reverse and quickly accelerated backwards, according to Shambaugh.
The officers were pinned between the driver's car door and the vehicle and were dragged along with the car—Cobern for around 25 feet and Sites for approximately 50 feet. They managed to break free of the car and told Spencer to stop.
According to Sites' criminal complaint, when Sites found himself in front of the vehicle, Spencer reportedly gunned the motor and drove toward him. Sites fired three rounds at Spencer. No one was hit by the gunfire.
Spencer then drove through a six-foot wooden privacy fence and into a nearby yard where he clipped the side of a house. He drove through the fence again before heading west on Winchester Street and fleeing the scene.
Spencer's car was found around an hour later with a flat tire by his home. It was impounded for evidence. A K-9 unit led officers to find a small amount of marijuana, less than five grams, in Spencer's vehicle.
Morgan County Sheriff Ronald McIntire, Chief Deputy Vince Shambaugh, Lieutenant Tim Stapleton, Deputy Tim Johnson and Deputy
Seth Place and his K-9 unit responded to the
officers in distress call. Town of Bath Police Chief James Minton, Corporal Craig Pearrell
and his K-9 unit Butch and West Virginia
State Police Sergeant S. C. Mahood also
responded. The Hampshire County Sheriff's Department also sent a deputy with a K-9 unit.
A Maryland State Police helicopter helped search the area with infrared and extra lighting and an extensive search was done, said Shambaugh. Officers determined that Spencer had fled to Maryland with the assistance of an unknown person.
Shambaugh arranged with the help of Spencer's sister in Hagerstown that Spencer return of his own free will. Spencer turned himself in to police on Thursday, March 22 at 2 p.m.
Spencer faces two charges of malicious assault on a police officer as well as felonious destruction of property, fleeing from vehicle causing injury, reckless driving and possession of marijuana. He was arraigned with bond set at $10,000. Spencer is currently being held in the Eastern Regional Jail.
A preliminary hearing for Spencer with Magistrate Greg Miller is scheduled for Thursday, March 29 at 3 p.m.