VAN WERT — A special session of the Van Wert County grand jury has been scheduled for Oct. 17 to determine if officers from the Allen County SWAT team acted appropriately and lawfully when they shot and killed a rogue truck driver last month.
Van Wert County Prosecuting Attorney Eva Yarger confirmed Tuesday that the grand jury session was requested by Special Prosecutor Joe Burkard of Paulding County. Burkard was unavailable for comment Tuesday, and an employee in his office said he would be out for the remainder of the week.
Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers, whose office headed up the investigation into the Sept. 3 shooting death of 46-year-old Spencerville resident Terry Pierce, was likewise unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Pierce was shot and killed by SWAT team members in western Van Wert County after leading police on a two-hour, multi-county chase that started near Spencerville on the morning of Sept. 3 after he was found to be driving a stolen semi tractor.
Pierce spent more than an hour on the phone with dispatchers, deputies and police officers during the chase along U.S. 30, threatening to ram authorities and even a school bus with the stolen semi truck cab if they didn’t back away from the pursuit. At one point he indicated that he would force officers to shoot him.
SWAT team members ultimately did just that. Pierce died as the result of two gunshot wounds to the chest, according to a preliminary autopsy report from the Lucas County Coroner’s Office. The report revealed Pierce was shot by officers 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.
Four members of the Allen County SWAT team were placed on paid administrative leave following Pierce’s death. Their names have not yet been made public, pending the completion of the investigation into the shooting.