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W.Va. police officer escapes injury during traffic stop

January 16, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

A Martinsburg Police Department patrolman avoided injury over the weekend when a motorist he attempted to stop at gunpoint allowed the vehicle he was driving to jump a curb and nearly hit the officer before running into a house, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Brandon Lee Spaur, of 627 Third St. in Martinsburg, was charged with attempted murder, malicious assault and fleeing while driving under the influence of alcohol, records show.

Spaur was arraigned Saturday morning by Magistrate Sandra L. Miller who set his bond at $120,000.

In his complaint, Patrolman E.C. Neely said he was assisting other department officers at the intersection of Third Street and Strine Avenue about 11:30 p.m., Friday when he saw a gold sedan traveling at a high rate of speed on Third Street.

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Neely said he immediately followed the car, a 1997 Pontiac Grand Am, noting it made an illegal turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue, then traveled through a red stoplight at Queen Street and Pennsylvania Avenue before backing into Commerce Street with no lights on, records show.

Heavy smoke was billowing from the hood of the vehicle, Neely said. Neely said the driver eventually turned onto West Race Street and then to North Maple Avenue, where the vehicle crashed into a curb in front of the residence at 311 N. Maple Ave.

"The driver and occupants attempted to flee the vehicle so I blocked them inside the ... car using the passenger side of my cruiser," Neely said.

With his pistol pointed at the driver, Neely said he ordered the driver to turn off the car as he crossed in front of it. Instead, Neely said, the driver squealed the vehicle's wheels and the car "jumped the curb" almost striking him, records show.

"I had to jump over the hood from the front of the suspect car to avoid being ran over," Neely said in his complaint.

The suspect vehicle then traveled north on the sidewalk of North Maple Avenue, striking the home at 319 N. Maple Ave. The driver then turned into an alley connecting Maple Avenue and Commerce Street before looping around to a back parking lot for 311 N. Maple Ave., Neely said.

There, Neely said, his cruiser and another department officer's vehicle were able to trap Spaur, who "gave himself up at gunpoint" at 12:05 a.m. Saturday.

An officer familiar with the incident said Tuesday that she did not believe Neely was injured. Neely was not available for comment.

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