Coroner: Three shots from SWAT team struck runaway truck driver

From Staff Reports -


Source: Video courtesy of Rick McCoy, Van Wert

A Spencerville man driving a stolen semi truck led authorities on a nearly two-hour chase Tuesday before authorities shot and killed him.

TOLEDO — The Spencerville man who was shot and killed by Allen County SWAT team members last week died as the result of two gunshot wounds to the chest, according to a preliminary autopsy report completed Sept. 4 by the Lucas County Coroner’s Office.

Terry Pierce was killed in western Van Wert County after leading police on a two-hour, multi-county chase that started near Spencerville at around 8 a.m. Sept. 3 after he was found driving a semi tractor stolen from a Van Wert company.

Dr. Cynthia Beisser, of the Lucas County Coroner’s Office, performed the preliminary autopsy. She set the time of death for Terry Pierce Jr., 46, at 10:26 a.m. Sept. 3. The official cause of death was listed as “multiple gunshot wounds.” A final ruling on Pierce’s death is being withheld pending the results of toxicology tests.

The preliminary report shows that Pierce was shot by police twice in the back and once in the left ankle. Small-caliber ammunition rounds were recovered, one from each side of Pierce’s chest, after piercing his lungs, the report says. One bullet passed through the man’s pulmonary artery.

The report further notes multiple shrapnel injuries to Pierce’s face, back and right arm, with “fragments visible on x-ray.” Three fragments were recovered in a body bag used to transport Pierce’s body.

Toxicology reports will determine the blood alcohol content in Pierce’s body at the time of death, according to the report.

An investigation into the shooting is currently in the hands of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The shooting itself was referred by the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office to the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office. A Van Wert County grand jury will consider what, if any, charges will be filed against the officers involved.

Van Wert County Prosecuting Attorney Eva Yarger on Tuesday said her office is “in the process of appointing a special prosecutor” to present the case to a grand jury.

Fleeing from Spencerville police, Pierce led law enforcement on a chase that lasted more than two hours along U.S. 30 in Allen and Van Wert counties. After initially heading east, Pierce ended up traveling west in the eastbound lanes of U.S. 30 in Van Wert County before he was shot and killed by the Allen County SWAT team.

Pierce talked with police via 911 calls throughout much of the chase, threatening to ram authorities and even a school bus with the stolen semi truck cab if they didn’t back away from the pursuit.

Over the course of a dozen profanity-laced 911 calls, Pierce repeatedly demanded that authorities back away from the truck. During a telephone conversation with Sgt. Kyle Miller, the acting chief of the Spencerville Police Department, Pierce suggested he wanted to force officers to kill him.

“This is the route we’re taking. I will make every one of you shoot me dead, Kyle. That’s how tired of life I am, brother,” he said.

Early in the chase, Pierce threatened to hit a school bus from behind.

He repeatedly told police he wouldn’t pull over unless authorities backed away. “Point blank, I do not care anymore. I’m not just having a bad day, ma’am,” Pierce said to a dispatcher.

The SWAT officers involved in the fatal shooting have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. The names of the officers have not been released by the Allen County Sheriff’s Office pending the completion of an ongoing investigation, according to a department spokeswoman.

Allen County Sheriff Matt Treglia defended the actions of SWAT team members involved in the shooting.

“I, 100%, stand behind these officers and this administration for the way this was handled,” Treglia said. “I can honestly tell you, this guy had bad intentions of hurting citizens in Allen County, and there was no way I was going to let that happen. He was not going to get himself into a village or municipality with that truck because of things he was saying on the phone to our hostage negotiators. He repeatedly threatened to kill and run over people.”

From Staff Reports

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A Spencerville man driving a stolen semi truck led authorities on a nearly two-hour chase Tuesday before authorities shot and killed him.
Video Credit: Video courtesy of Rick McCoy, Van Wert
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