PORTSMOUTH — Residents of a Portsmouth neighborhood were awoken Sunday morning by a semi-truck smashing into their vehicles.
Residents of the 1700 block of Charles Street cleaned up their street and assessed damage after a stolen semi-truck came through their neighborhood just before 2 a.m. hitting several vehicles as the driver tried to evade police.
According to the Portsmouth Police Department, the suspect of the stolen semi-truck has been identified as Maxwell J. Wiley, 39, from Argillite, Kentucky. Wiley will face numerous felonies including, Breaking and Entering, Grand Theft Auto, Failure to Comply with the Order of a Police Officer, Railroad Vandalism and numerous counts of Vandalism.
On July 18, 2021, at approximately 1:44 a.m., the Portsmouth 911 center received calls that a semi-truck that had struck a pole and a building at 621 Broadway St. Callers advised that this caused a tree to catch fire. Officers were dispatched to the scene and located a semi-truck fleeing the area.
Sgt. Fischer and Ofc. Tori Galloway attempted to stop the semi-truck. The driver of the semi refused to stop. The pursuit continued through the east end of Portsmouth, where the driver of the semi caused extensive damage to fire hydrants, signposts and struck approximately 15 vehicles. The driver of the semi went the wrong way on Charles Street and lost his trailer as he was driving through a vacant lot on Charles Street.
“All you see from that end to all the way down is just vehicles smashed all over the place,” Charles Street resident Melissa Piatt said. “A car down there landed up on the sidewalk. One down there landed on the sidewalk. His (neighbor) brand-new truck, he hasn’t even made a payment on got hit.”
Piatt shared that she was told when the truck drove through the vacant lot on the corner of Charles Street, it damaged the flatbed that was being pulled by the semi and broke, causing part of the trailer to swing back and forth down the street.
“That’s what caused all the damage to these vehicles,” Piatt said. “He went so fast down that way that even trying to slow it down on our security cameras to try to see it. It’s too fast to even slow down.”
According to police, the pursuit continued northbound, where the driver of the semi drove the semi onto the railroad tracks in the area of Gallia and Clay Streets. At that time, there was a train that was traveling slowly westbound. The train struck the semi, and the semi became disabled.
The driver of the semi then fled out of the vehicle and climbed on top of the locomotive, where officers surrounded him. Wiley did not attempt to take over the operation of the locomotive. Wiley was forced off the train and aggressively resisted arrest. Officers were able to secure Wiley with the use of a Taser.
Wiley was transported to SOMC and later transferred to a trauma center in Columbus. Once released from treatment, Wiley will be facing numerous felonies, including Breaking and Entering, Grand Theft Auto, Failure to Comply with the Order of a Police Officer, Railroad Vandalism and numerous counts of Vandalism.
While residents are left trying to clean up their streets and figure out how to fix their vehicles, many are asking questions about the Portsmouth Police Departments’ pursuit policy. The Daily Times obtained a copy of the PPD’s Pursuit Policy.
“Deciding whether to pursue a motor vehicle is a critical decision that must be made quickly and under difficult and unpredictable circumstances. In recognizing the risk to public safety created by vehicle pursuits, no officer or supervisor shall be criticized or disciplined for deciding not to engage in a vehicle pursuit due to the risk involved. This includes circumstances where Department policy would permit the initiation or continuation of the pursuit. It is recognized that vehicle pursuits are not always predictable, and decisions made pursuant to this policy will be evaluated according to the totality of the circumstances reasonably available at the time of the pursuit,” the policy states.
“Officers must remember that the most important factors to the successful conclusion of a pursuit are proper self-discipline and sound professional judgment. Officers conduct during the course of a pursuit must be objectively reasonable; that is, what a reasonable officer would do under the circumstances. An individual’s unreasonable desire to apprehend a fleeing suspect at all costs has no place in professional law enforcement.”
The policy also states when the department can initiate a pursuit and terminate a pursuit.
“Officers are authorized to initiate a pursuit when it is reasonable to believe that a suspect is attempting to evade arrest or detention by fleeing in a vehicle that has been given a signal to stop by a peace officer,” the policy states.
“Pursuits should be discontinued whenever the totality of objective circumstances known or which reasonably ought to be known to the officer or supervisor during the pursuit indicates that the present risk of continuing the pursuit reasonably appears to outweigh the risk resulting from the suspect’s escape. Operating an emergency vehicle in a pursuit with emergency lights and siren does not relieve the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle of the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons and does not protect the driver from the consequences of his/her reckless disregard for the safety of others.”
While residents wait to learn their options of getting their property fixed, many hope Wiley will receive charges and pay for his crimes.
“I don’t know what people are going to do,” Piatt said. “A lot of people only have liability and the police have basically already said they are S.O.L (sorry, out of luck).”
A full copy of the Portsmouth Police Departments Pursuit Policy can be viewed online at www.Portsmouth-DailyTimes.com.
Reach Adam Black at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1927, or by email at [email protected]
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