Police chase leads to assault charges
— A Cecil County grand jury has handed up a seven-count indictment against a Rising Sun man accused of leading two Perryville Police Department officers on a chase last month and deliberately ramming their cruisers, causing heavy damage.
The defendant, Timothy Michael Johnson, 24, of the 100 block of Algonquin Drive, is charged with two counts each of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and attempted second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer, according to Cccil County Circuit Court records.
Johnson also is charged with attempt by a driver to elude uniformed police by failing to stop, court records show.
The indictment against Johnson was made public late Thursday, when a judge lifted its secret status and unsealed the document.
Johnson, who was
arrested on April 6 and arraigned on Tuesday, remained in the Cecil County Detention Center in lieu of $200,000 bond on Friday, according to court records.
The incident started about 8 p.m. March 10 when PPD Cpl. Robert Nitz attempted to stop a silver Honda Accord on Route 222 because the suspect — later identified as Johnson — was driving the vehicle erratically, police reported.
After the suspect failed to stop for Nitz on Route 222, the chase went from eastbound West Pulaski Highway to Coudon Boulevard and then through the Perryville Branch Library parking lot, before returning to Pulaski Highway, police said.
After turning onto northbound Belvidere Road, police added, Johnson apparently lost control of his vehicle and it spun out as Nitz, now joined by PPD Officer Tony Lenzi, continued their pursuit.
Moments later, now facing southbound in the 1300 block of Belvidere Road, the suspect intentionally rammed the cruiser driven by Nitz, according to police.
“After he spun out, he regained control and headed for me. He hit the front of my vehicle,” Nitz explained on March 13, three days after the incident.
When the suspect backed up, Nitz got out of his patrol car and commanded him to stop, police said. But instead, police added, Johnson drove toward the cruiser again — forcing Nitz to jump back into his patrol car for safety — and then sped away.
“I fled into the vehicle. The lower part of my left leg got pinched between the door and door frame,” Nitz recalled during last month’s interview, noting that he did not suffer injuries while dodg- ing the oncoming Honda.
Moments later, Johnson drove his Honda into the front driver’s side of Lenzi’s patrol car, disabling it, and then sped away, police reported.
A North East Police Department officer later found Johnson’s abandoned Honda on South Main Street in North East, police said, adding that the vehicle was impounded.
Perryville Detective Dale Hoffman was able to track down Johnson, who had been arrested in March in an unrelated drug case, according to police and court records. Dfc. Bryan Shockey of the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office in- vestigated the two chase-related accidents, police reported.
Both police vehicles were placed out of service to undergo repairs, according to Nitz, who reported that Lenzi’s patrol car sustained more damage than his cruiser.
“I was able to drive my vehicle away from the scene, but his was disabled,” Nitz noted, adding that the impact on Lenzi’s patrol car apparently bent the axle, hampering steering.
Nitz and Lenzi did not require medical treatment after the incident, according to Nitz, who commented three days after the incident, “I’m just a little bit sore.”