SALISBURY — A drunk-driving suspect was shot by a Maryland State Police trooper early Tuesday morning after fleeing the scene of a traffic stop with the officer hanging out of his vehicle’s driver’s side window.
Around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, a Maryland State Police trooper was patrolling in a marked vehicle in the area of Johnson Rd. in Wicomico County when he observed a vehicle that was speeding and had a tag light out. As the trooper moved behind the vehicle, he saw the Honda passenger car swerve and almost hit a telephone pole. The trooper eventually stopped the Honda on Johnson Rd. near Nevins Place and made contact with the driver, later identified as Harry Wyatt-Swift, 23, of Salisbury.
The trooper detected an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle and initiated a DUI investigation. The trooper had Wyatt-Swift get out of the vehicle, but when the officer began to demonstrate a field sobriety test, the suspect ran back to his car in an attempt to flee the scene. Trooper-First Class Richard Keidel, a five-year veteran, reached into the car in an attempt to take the keys.
However, Wyatt-Swift then grabbed the officer’s arm and drove off with the trooper hanging out of the driver’s side window. Keidel repeatedly told Wyatt-Swift to stop, but the suspect refused and continued to drive down Johnson Rd. at a high rate of speed. Fearing for his life, the trooper fired his department-issued .40 caliber pistol. Wyatt-Swift was struck in the abdomen and the side of his face and let go of the trooper, who fell to the roadway as the car continued on.
Keidel then ran back to his police cruiser, called in the shooting and followed in the direction of the suspect vehicle. About two miles down the road, the trooper found Wyatt-Swift’s vehicle where it had apparently struck a telephone pole support cable and flipped. However, the suspect was not found in the vehicle.
MSP troopers and Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputies by then had responded to the area and began a search for the suspect. A short time later, Wyatt-Swift walked out of the nearby woods and surrendered. He was given immediate emergency care and EMS personnel were summoned to the scene.
Wyatt-Swift was transported by ambulance to PRMC and was later transported by ambulance to Shock Trauma in Baltimore. As of mid-week, he remained in Shock Trauma under police guard and charges are pending against him.
Keidel was treated for injuries at PRMC and was later released.
As is protocol in police-involved shootings, Keidel has been placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues. The shooting investigation is being conducted by the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit and an MSP Internal Affairs Unit will conduct its own investigation.