Prosecutor pushes for enhanced penalties for suspects who flee from police

Florida man shot by police after US 35 chase, crash faces 75 years in prison on new charges.

A Florida man shot by Dayton police in January after he reportedly hit his daughter with a pickup truck and then fired shots at officers during a chase on U.S. 35 that ended in a crash into two cruisers faces up to 75 years in prison on new charges.

James Michael Skirvin, 54, of Venice, Florida, was indicted Tuesday on nearly a dozen felony charges, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. announced during a media briefing.

Skirvin is scheduled to be arraigned next Tuesday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court for six counts of felonious assault, failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, discharge of a firearm on or near prohibited premises, improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, vehicular assault and aggravated possession of drugs.

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Skirvin’s case highlights the need for increased penalties for suspects who flee from police, Heck said.

“Police pursuits can be extremely dangerous, not only for the officers but also for pedestrians and other innocent motorists,” he said. “We are seeing an increase in the number of defendants who flee from police and it is time to put an end to this reckless behavior.”

The prosecutor proposed temporarily — or in some cases permanently— suspending driver’s license of people who flee from police.

“Something has to be done to the individuals who are causing these absolutely avoidable accidents,” Heck said. “They should not be fleeing from police. There has to be consequences more than what there is and what there are now.”

Skirvin is accused of hitting his 35-year-old daughter with a pickup truck just before 11 a.m. Jan. 8 as she was sitting on a bench following an argument at Voyager Village, a mobile home park off West Third Street (U.S. 35) in Trotwood. When police were on the scene providing aid to the woman, Skirvin drove past officers and pointed a long gun at them, leading to a pursuit.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Dayton Police Department also responded to assist Trotwood crews.

During the pursuit, Skirvin drove erratically, swerved into oncoming traffic — forcing a Trotwood cruiser to take evasive action to avoid a collision — and fired a rifle at officers out the window of his pickup truck, police said.

Skirvin reportedly drove over tire deflation devices at U.S. 35 West near Liscum Drive, then drove across all west and east lanes and hit a sheriff’s cruiser head on and landed on top of a Trotwood police cruiser.

The officer, identified Tuesday as veteran Michael Richardson, suffered critical injuries in the crash. He has since been released from Miami Valley Hospital.

It is not clear how many times Skirvin was hit, but seven Dayton officers, four Trotwood officers and two deputies fired their weapons. None of them have been identified.

Skirvin has no known local criminal history outside of minor traffic infractions in the Dayton area, police said.

The officer-involved shooting is under investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Trotwood Police Chief Erik Wilson has said his department is conducting an internal investigation.

U.S. 35 was shut down for more than eight hours between Infirmary Road and Abbey Avenue for the investigation and cleanup.

Skirvin was indicted Jan. 17 on charges of felonious assault and domestic violence, a first-degree misdemeanor, in the Trotwood portion of the incident for which his daughter suffered minor injuries.

He is held without bond in the Montgomery County Jail.

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