PoliceOne Staff Report
(CAMBRIDGE, Ohio) -- A grand jury has cleared four state troopers in the death of a 24-year-old Stow man following a high-speed car chase on I-77 last month.
Police fatally wounded Theodore Kepler, a passenger in the car, on Oct. 20 when he charged them with a large butcher knife, according to a Zwire report.
Three officers from the Cambridge post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Lt. Robert L. Bennington, Sgt. Robert A. Robson and Trooper Mark Masters, and Trooper A.J. Wood of the New Philadelphia post were cleared by the grand jury on Friday.
"The in-car video segment shows the difficult position law enforcement officers must be ready to confront as part of their commitment to protecting the public," said Col. Ken Morckel, superintendent of the patrol, in a press release. "The victims in this case, Kepler's relatives and the involved troopers, now must live with Kepler's tragic actions."
Investigators believe that Kepler might have intended to end his life by police fire because of a note that was found on his body. It read, "wait for me in afterlife."
The car chase began at 11:48 a.m. when a trooper recognized the 1991 Ford Escort being driven by Kepler's girlfriend, Dawn Boggs, as it was traveling southbound on I-77 near New Philadelphia.
Troopers chased Kepler and Boggs for half an hour through Tuscarawas and Guernsey counties, throwing down road spikes twice before stopping the car at 12:17 p.m., police said.
Kepler told Boggs prior to exiting the car, "This is it. I'm not going back to jail," Zwire reported. He had recently been released from an Arizona prison.
Troopers tried to stop Kepler with chemical spray when he confronted them with a knife, but when he continued they fired several shots dropping him instantly, according to reports.
A Guernsey County grand jury has indicted Boggs on felony counts of fleeing and eluding and receiving stolen property. A trial date has not yet been set.