WHITE HALL, Md. (WJZ)—The investigation into a police pursuit that resulted in gunfire and a crash takes an unpredicted twist. The Harford County Sheriff’s deputy involved in the incident now faces a reckless endangerment charge.
Adam May spoke to the state’s attorney, who says this is the first time in his 32-year career that he’s ever charged an officer for misusing a service weapon.
Extremely rare criminal charges are filed against Harford County Sheriff’s Deputy 1st Class Christopher Behles, who was involved in a police pursuit that ended in a crash last month.
The 37-year-old deputy was driving an unmarked vehicle when he was rear-ended while stopped in traffic. He then confronted the other driver and at some point fired his service weapon.
That’s where the story gets a little murky.
Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly is being vague with the details.
“The charging documents specifically details that the act was firing a weapon at an occupied vehicle,” Cassilly said.
Initially the sheriff’s office told WJZ that the deputy, who works at the southern precinct, fired his weapon after his arm was caught in the suspect’s fleeing vehicle.
“It’s my understanding that one shot was fired, but I don’t know the sequencing of the event, only that it happened in the process of when the vehicle was pulling away and the officer was caught up in the motion of the car,” said Eddie Hopkins, Harford County Sherriff’s Department.
A nearby farmer has a conflicting account.
“I heard a couple more shots, and again it wasn’t like a regular shotgun. It sounded more like an explosion or something,” the farmer said.
Exactly what happened on Old York Road remains a mystery to the public.
The Sheriff’s Office appears to be standing by the deputy.
“Our officer was not, or is not, under any internal investigation at this time,” Hopkins said.
Behles has been suspended with pay.
If convicted of this misdemeanor charge he face up to five years in jail.
The driver of the fleeing vehicle— 33-year-old William Redding Harvey V of Jarrettsville–was later caught after crashing his vehicle and is also facing criminal charges, including assault.