By Rosemary K. Otzman
Sumpter Police Sgt. John Ashby made a traffic stop of a speeding vehicle at about 4:49 p.m. on March 1 and before it was over the driver had sped off and is facing felony charges.
Sgt. Ashby retrieved a driver’s license and work ID card from the driver, Karl A. Johnson, 46, of Milan, and the driver matched the pictures on the IDs.
What happened next had Sumpter Detective John Toth shaking his head later as he watched the patrol car video that showed Johnson turning a simple traffic stop into a fleeing and eluding felony.
Det. Toth said after Sgt. Ashby ran the license of Johnson and came back to the car window, he found Johnson on the phone. Johnson ignored Ashby as the police officer repeatedly asked him to get out of his vehicle.
Finally, Johnson asked why he had to get out of his car and Ashby replied it was because his license was suspended and he had a warrant out for him.
Johnson asked Ashby to follow him home to Milan and Ashby refused, saying there are just minor charges against him now and they would turn into a felony if he drove off. He reminded Johnson that everything was being recorded on the patrol car camera.
Johnson goosed the car’s accelerator and the car lurched forward a couple of feet.
The video shows Ashby patiently walking the few feet to the driver’s window and urging Johnson to cooperate, rather than face more serious charges.
“Give me a head start,” Johnson said and then took off at the high rate of speed, Det. Toth said.
Ashby and Officer Elizabeth Egerer pursued Johnson, but the roads were so bad in Sumpter that they both disengaged the pursuit. Later police went to Johnson’s house to pick him up on the warrant, but they were told he wasn’t there.
Det. Toth said Johnson later came to the Sumpter Police Department and turned himself in, with an apology.
Johnson has been charged with fleeing and eluding a police officer, a five-year felony; commission of a felony with a motor vehicle; operating on a suspended license, a 93-day misdemeanor; and habitual offender, fourth degree (indicating three prior felonies), which could be up to 15 years.
At the time of his arrest, Johnson was on probation through the Washtenaw/Ann Arbor Probation Department for retail fraud – third degree and assaulting / resisting / obstructing a police officer. He was due to get off probation Oct. 1, 2014.
His record also shows several breaking and entering convictions and convictions relating to stolen cars and operating a chop shop.
Johnson has been arraigned by a judge at 34th District Court and his pre-exam set for March 20 and preliminary exam for March 27.
By Rosemary K. Otzman