Crime & Courts

Koch family declines to press charges against Wichita man who crashed through gate

Wichita police officer injured after suspects ram patrol car

Wichita police Lt. Ronald Hunt said two suspects were arrested on suspicion of felony crimes after they "intentionally rammed" into an officer's patrol car, which may have broken his hand. (Jan. 15, 2018)
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Wichita police Lt. Ronald Hunt said two suspects were arrested on suspicion of felony crimes after they "intentionally rammed" into an officer's patrol car, which may have broken his hand. (Jan. 15, 2018)

A Wichita man who allegedly drove through the private gate of a Koch family home before ramming a police officer’s patrol car is facing criminal charges — but not from the Kochs.

Aron James White faces charges in relation to the injured police officer as well as the passenger in his car, but the Koch family requested that no charges be filed for damage to their property, court records show.

White, 40, was arrested Jan. 15 after Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said he “intentionally rammed” an officer’s patrol car near 21st and Greenwich. Police at the crime scene said White also rammed a private security vehicle before driving through a security gate in the 2000 block of North Greenwich.

Authorities have not publicly identified the Kochs as victims in the case, but records show that Chase Koch, the son of Charles Koch, lives at the address listed in police reports. The private security vehicle was reportedly from Koch Industries.

A police affidavit for White’s arrest, previously filed in Sedgwick County District Court and publicly released on Thursday, states that the property owners told law enforcement they did not want to pursue property damage or trespassing charges.

White broke through a $20,000 metal security gate and damaged about $10,000 worth of landscaping, police have said. Investigators aren’t sure why White drove through the gate, but did say drugs may have influenced his actions. He has no known connection to the Koch property and doesn’t live in the area.

Billionaire Charles Koch is a backer of the First Step Act, a federal criminal justice reform law signed by President Donald Trump in December.

Koch Industries spokesman Rob Carlton declined a request for comment Thursday evening.

The night of the incident, Carlton said in a statement that they would not comment while the investigation was ongoing.

“We’d like to extend our thanks to the officers who arrived on scene and our thoughts are with the officer that sustained injuries during the incident,” Carlton said.

White has been charged, though, for alleged crimes against the officer and his passenger — a panhandler he paid more than $100 before asking him to ride along, court records state.

Police and jail records identified the passenger as 58-year-old Daniel Joseph Moore, who was also booked Jan. 15 for outstanding warrants unconnected to that night’s incident. Court records identify the police officer as Atlee Vogt.

White is charged with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer against Vogt, aggravated assault against Moore and fleeing and eluding police.

The affidavit, which lays out the legal justification for White’s arrest, gives the following description from a Wichita Police Department detective of what happened that night:

Wichita police officers were dispatched to 2000 block of North Greenwich just after 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 for a suspicious character call, which was later upgraded to a disturbance with a weapon report. Dispatchers advised officers that the 911 caller said he was private security and someone had rammed his security vehicle after being denied entrance to a private property.

Officer Vogt spoke with the private security officer, as well as White and Moore. Security had parked a Chevy Suburban SUV behind White’s silver Mercedes-Benz car, then White backed into the SUV.

The security officer told police this was the second time that day that White had tried to gain access to the property. White was claiming he lived at the residence.

When Vogt spoke with White, he “was not acting normal.” White was holding a backpack in his lap. When Vogt asked White to put the backpack aside, White put the car in drive “and quickly accelerated towards the gate, crashing through the gate.”

Police and private security chased the car as it sped through the yard. White turned the car around and started driving back toward the patrol car and security.

Vogt thought White was going to ram the security vehicle, but instead White rammed the police car, hitting the front passenger corner. Vogt’s left hand and arm were bruised and had minor burns from the airbag deployment.

The officer’s injured hand had been on the steering wheel as he prepared to reverse out of the car’s path.

After the car crashed into his patrol vehicle, Vogt heard the car’s engine revving and felt his patrol vehicle be rammed a second time. He told investigators he thought the suspect was trying to kill him.

“Vogt state this place him in fear for his safety and he unholstered his firearm and was going to fire his duty weapon through the front windshield towards the Mercedes,” the affidavit states.

Before any shots were fired, the car then drove away and back toward the front of the property. The fleeing car was disabled after it crashed into a tree.

Other police officers arrested White. A search of his backpack found “syringes and spoons commonly used for preparing and ingesting illegal drugs.”

Moore, the passenger in the car, told police that he is a panhandler and White gave him $100 a few days before the incident. He was also given White’s phone number “in case he needed anything.”

On the day of the incident, Moore called White to ask for a motel room due to predicted low temperatures. Instead, when White picked him up at a QuikTrip, he gave Moore a “wad of cash” and said he just wanted him to ride along.

Moore drove up to an intercom at the residence on North Greenwich, where he told security that he lived there. White was told to leave, then crashed into the security vehicle.

Moore took off his seat belt and said he wanted out of the car, but White said “’it’s alright’ in a calm voice” before ramming through the gate. Moore told investigators the car was traveling “very fast” and he “was afraid he was going to die.”

“He (Moore) said Aron had a ‘sinister’ laugh and a weird look on his face,” the affidavit states. But Moore said White “had surprisingly good control over the car.”

Detectives had not interviewed White as of the court filing of the affidavit, three days after his arrest. White “displayed signs of impairment” the first time investigators attempted to interview him. A second time, White said he “needed his psychological medication and did not feel comfortable giving a statement without it.”

White’s ex-wife contacted police the day after his arrest and said he has been “manic,” “diagnosed with bipolar” and “struggles with a ‘pill addiction.” She said White had been acting “strange,” including claiming he owns The Alley Indoor Entertainment.

Court records show the ex-wife’s divorce from White was finalized Jan. 11, or four days before he was arrested.

White’s next court appearance is a criminal preliminary hearing scheduled for Feb. 14.

Sedgwick County, KS, Sheriff Jeff Easter said medical marijuana THC vape has been smuggled from California into Kansas, and sellers are targeting children with cartoon characters, including Princess Peach.

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