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Police Chief Made Up Story About Being Shot, Sheriff Says

March 27, 2002
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Police Chief Made Up Story About Being Shot, Sheriff Says

Associated Press

PERRYSVILLE, Ohio (AP) - One fabrication led to another. Soon, this village's police chief, who claimed he was shot by a motorist, was entangled in a story that didn't make sense, a sheriff said.

Ashland County Sheriff Wayne Risner said Wednesday that Chief Tim Sommer actually shot himself in the leg accidentally.

That occurred after Sommer accidentally fired a shot through his cruiser's windshield, then tried staging a traffic stop to cover up what had happened. Sommer shot himself in the leg while reloading his gun, Risner said.

Sommer had claimed he was shot by a man he pulled over for driving without license plates.

Sommer, 52, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A message was left at the police station in this town about 60 miles northeast of Columbus. A home telephone listing for the chief could not be found.

Risner said his investigators found inconsistencies in Sommer's story that he was shot March 19 while struggling with a man he pulled over on a county road. The chief also said the suspect fired a shot into the windshield of his police cruiser.

"When some things don't make sense, you have to question it," Risner said. "When we tried to match up the facts, they didn't make sense."

Sheriff's officers determined that after Sommer accidentally fired a 9mm rifle in the police garage, damaging his windshield, he drove out to a county road and staged a traffic stop.

Sommer made tire marks in the grass along the road and, while on the radio to report the traffic stop, fired his handgun at the ground to make it appear there was trouble, Risner said.

The police chief then accidentally hit the magazine button on his gun, which caused the ammunition to drop from the weapon. When he reloaded the weapon, it went off and a bullet struck Sommer in the leg, the sheriff said.

Sommer threw a drug pipe and the casing from the accidental shooting out the window to make it look like someone else was there, Risner said.

The sheriff said he was upset because 43 officers from various agencies responded when Sommer said he was shot, and hundreds of man-hours were wasted looking for a suspect and a vehicle that did not exist.

No charges have been filed, but Prosecutor Robert DeSanto is reviewing the case.

"It's amazing the foolishness of it," DeSanto told the Ashland Times-Gazette.

Mayor Renee Mott said she would not comment on whether Sommer was still the village's police chief. He has held that job since Dec. 1, 1999.

Risner said that if Sommer had come forward when he damaged the cruiser, he probably would have faced minor discipline.

"He might have got his hind end chewed a little bit, but that would have been the end of it," Risner said.

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