The Law Blog of Oklahoma

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Struck in High Speed Chase

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol lieutenant is in critical condition after being struck by a vehicle during a high speed pursuit.

Lt. D. Heath Meyer, 43, was laying down stop sticks near Interstate 35 and North 27th in Moore to help disable the vehicle of a fleeing suspect. Two approachingpatrol vehicles collided in attempting to avoid the stop sticks, and one of those vehicles struck Meyer, critically injuring him.

Eventually, troopers were able to stop the fleeing vehicle and arrest the driver, alternately identified in news reports as Dangelo Ladon Burgess and DangeloLandon Burgess, 27.

Burgess was arrested on multiple complaints including eluding an officer and causing an accident resulting in great bodily injury while driving withouta license.

The defendant also has a pending case from September 2016 involving aggravated attempting to elude an officer, driving without a license, transportingan open container, and DUI. He is also serving a deferred sentence for grand larceny from 2012. Originally, he was scheduled to complete probationin January 2018, but after this most recent incident, the Oklahoma County District Attorney has filed a motion to accelerate judgment and sentencingin that case.

In general, eluding an officer is a misdemeanor under 21 O.S. � 540A:

Any operator of a motor vehicle who has received a visual and audible signal, a red light and a siren from a peace officer driving a motor vehicle showing the same to be an official police, sheriff, highway patrol or state game ranger vehicle directing the operator to bring the vehicle to a stop and who willfully increases the speed or extinguishes the lights of the vehicle in an attempt to elude such peace officer, or willfully attempts in any other manner to elude the peace officer, or who does elude such peace officer, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

However, an aggravated attempt to elude is a felony under subsections B and C of the same statute:

B. Any person who violates the provisions of subsection A of this section in such manner as to endanger any other person shall be deemed guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term of not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years, or by a fine of not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

C. 1. Any person who causes an accident, while eluding or attempting to elude an officer, resulting in great bodily injury to any other person while driving or operating a motor vehicle within this state and who is in violation of the provisions of subsection A of this section may be charged with a violation of the provisions of this subsection. Any person who is convicted of a violation of the provisions of this subsection shall be deemed guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in a state correctional institution for not less than one (1) year and not more than five (5) years, and a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00).

2. As used in this subsection, "great bodily injury" means bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

The suspect in this case faces up to 5 years in prison on the eluding charge alone. Given the number of other pending charges against him and themotion to accelerate sentencing on his grand larceny charge, he could face significant prison time.

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