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Hagerstown man gets eight years in assault of police officer

April 01, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown man who assaulted and tried to disarm a city police officer after a November 2009 chase was sentenced Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to eight years in prison.

Jeremy Wayne Peel, 28, of 12638 Beck Road, exhibited "a flagrant disregard for the law ... which makes the defendant a danger to be among us," Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson told Circuit Judge Daniel P. Dwyer during the sentencing hearing. Peel was scheduled for a jury trial Thursday morning, but pleaded guilty before jury selection to charges of attempting to disarm a police officer, second-degree assault on a police officer, and fleeing and eluding police. In exchange for the pleas, other criminal and traffic charges were dropped. Peel was originally charged with 20 counts.

Dwyer sentenced Peel to eight years each on the attempted disarming and assault charges, suspending half of the 16 years. He also sentenced Peel to a concurrent one-year sentence on the fleeing charge.

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Following Peel's release from prison, Dwyer ordered that he be placed on three years' supervised probation.

Wilson told the court the incident began at 11:42 p.m. on Nov. 27 when Hagerstown Police Department officers on patrol on Western Maryland Parkway saw a man in a pickup truck at a traffic light assaulting a woman. The woman was Peel's wife, Robin Peel, Wilson said.

The man fled in the pickup truck and "went tearing through Hagerstown at high speed," running traffic lights and stop signs, and going through residential areas, Wilson said.

The driver tried to avoid police by pulling into an alley off the 900 block of View Street and turning off the vehicle's lights, but Officer Travis Crouse and Detective Mike Kovac spotted the truck and the driver fled on foot, Wilson said, reading from the facts of the case. When confronted by Crouse along railroad tracks, Peel threatened to kill the officer, Wilson said.

Crouse had his pistol drawn and the man grabbed the barrel, Wilson told the court. Crouse managed to secure the weapon, but he was injured in the struggle, Wilson said. Kovac was also injured when he came to Crouse's assistance, Wilson said.

"When he grabbed hold of the weapon, I had to pull it down and away," Crouse told Dwyer.

Crouse said he feared for his life during the struggle.

Crouse told Dwyer he injured a finger in the incident. Kovac injured his shoulder.

Peel's attorney, George W. Knight, said his client's actions were "utterly ridiculous," but asked Dwyer to consider a shorter sentence of five or six years.

Robin Peel also asked that her husband receive a shorter sentence, saying he was a good husband and father when he was not drinking. Jeremy Peel's mother and brother also asked the court to impose a shorter sentence.

"I messed up, and there's nothing I can do about it," Peel told Dwyer.

He apologized to the officers.

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