The Harford County Sheriff’s Office deputy charged last week with reckless endangerment fired multiple shots at a suspect’s vehicle after separating himself from the truck as it fled the scene of a crash with the officer in early April, witnesses told police.
Witnesses accounts of the incident which led Deputy First Class Christopher Behles, 37, to fire his service weapon at William Harvey V, 33, of Jarrettsville were detailed in the charging documents filed against Harvey after the April 8 altercation and pursuit.
Harvey was charged at the time of the incident with second degree assault, resisting arrest, and other charges, but Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly on April 29 charged Behles with reckless endangerment in the incident. Though Cassilly said the charge pertained to Behles’ use of his firearm, he did not detail the exact reasons for the charge in his filing.
The Sheriff’s Office said in a statement at the time of the incident that, while heading home at the end of his shift in an unmarked agency vehicle, Behles was rear-ended by Harvey on Norrisville Road at White Hall Road in northern Harford County. Behles identified himself to Harvey, who attempted to leave the scene. The Sheriff’s Office said only that Behles “became caught up in the vehicle’s movements” as Harvey continued to pull away and, in fear of being seriously injured or killed, “fired his service weapon in an attempt to stop the threat.”
According to the charging documents against Harvey, witnesses said Behles identified himself to Harvey as a deputy and the pair engaged in an argument, during which Behles told Harvey he was under arrest. Behles then opened the door of Harvey’s Toyota 4Runner and ordered him to exit the vehicle, but Harvey refused. The witnesses said Behles “attempted to physically remove Harvey from the vehicle,” but was unable to do so. Harvey then attempted to drive around Behles’ car while the officer continued to attempt to remove him.
At that point, witnesses told police that Behles “separated from the vehicle” and fired at the fleeing SUV, but “the rounds shot” did not hit Harvey. Behles pursued Harvey into Baltimore County, eventually arresting him when Harvey crashed his vehicle and fled on foot. Both Behles and Harvey sustained minor injuries in the incident, police said.
According to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Edward Hopkins, the Criminal Investigations Division reviews any incident in which an officer employs deadly force, and forwards a report to the state’s attorney’s office. However, that review by the Criminal Investigation Division does not constitute an internal investigation of the officer’s actions, Hopkins said.
A request by The Dagger to view the Criminal Investigations Division’s review of the incident under the Maryland Public Information Act was denied Tuesday by Sheriff’s Office Records Manager Jeanette Gamble. In a letter denying the request, Gamble wrote that release of the report “would be contrary to the public interest” as it “could interfere with the criminal investigation and prosecution.” However, Gamble released an accident report concerning the accident.
The charging documents against Harvey, the accident report, and Gamble’s letter to The Dagger are below: