A Newton man was trying to take a police officer’s gun during a scuffle when he was fatally shot by a McPherson County sheriff’s deputy late Monday night, authorities said.
The man has been identified as William M. Holmes, 24.
The incident began when Newton officers responded shortly after 10:30 p.m. on Monday to a 911 report of burglaries to vehicles in the 300 block of Lakeshore Drive, Newton police Lt. Bryan Hall said.
When confronted by residents of the area, Holmes and Kenneth C. Herrod, 22, fled in a vehicle, coming “perilously close” to striking one of the residents, Hall said. Officers spotted the vehicle about four minutes later and a chase began.
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It continued onto I-135 north out of Newton, at times reaching speeds of 115 miles an hour, Hall said.
Law enforcement officers deployed stop sticks, and investigators think Holmes hit one of them because the front driver’s side tire “came apart” during the chase, Hall said.
The suspects continued to flee, however, eventually driving on the tire’s rim. The vehicle eventually came to a stop in the median of I-135 near Mile Marker 51, near Moundridge.
Officers gave the two men in the vehicle multiple verbal commands to surrender, but they refused. The verbal commands continued for several minutes, with the men inside the vehicle refusing to exit.
In the meantime, Hall said, law enforcement officers retrieved non-lethal weapons in case they were needed.
When Holmes finally got out of the vehicle, he became “very aggressive,” Hall said, including taunting the officers.
Officers fired a bean bag shotgun and deployed a Taser, but neither had an effect, Hall said. A K-9 dog was then sent to subdue Holmes, but he kicked the dog in the head.
When a Newton officer saw Holmes attack the dog, “he rushed in to physically restrain the driver,” Hall said.
A struggle ensued, during which they fell to the ground with Holmes on top. The officer “felt the man pulling the gun from his holster” and yelled for assistance.
A McPherson County deputy responded by shooting Holmes in the torso. Holmes was taken to Mercy Hospital in Moundridge, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the incident, which escalated quickly from the use of non-lethal weapons to the dog being deployed to the officer and Holmes scuffling.
“There is a lot of body and dash-cam video,” Hall said. “We can’t release it at this time because of the KBI investigation.”
Two officers were treated for injuries, Hall said.
When someone tries to take a law enforcement officer’s weapon, “we can presume there’s only one reason to do that, and that is to harm us,” Hall said.
The Newton officers involved in the incident are back on duty, he said.
Herrod has been booked into the Harvey County Jail on suspicion of burglary, obstruction of justice and misdemeanor theft, records show.
Hall would not say whether Holmes had a criminal history. Records show Holmes was out of jail on bond, awaiting sentencing in a felony case.
The original charges were aggravated battery and criminal threat, records say. He was convicted in the case earlier this month.
Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker of the Eagle