Video: Ill. cop suffers career-ending wounds in shootout

Police released video of the 2012 traffic stop shooting of an officer after the gunman received a 40-year prison sentence Thursday

By Beth Hundsdorfer
Belleville News-Democrat

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. — A crackling radio transmission in the early morning hours of Sept. 25, 2012, was heard by local police departments.

It was two words that cause officers dread:

"Shots fired."

In two seconds, the actions that sparked that transmission ended the 27-year law enforcement career of Fairview Heights Officer Jeff Stratman and landed 30-year-old Dallas McIntosh of Centreville a 40-year prison sentence.

Stratman stopped McIntosh's 2010 Chevrolet Camaro just before 2 a.m. on that September day. Stratman was suspicious when he saw the car pull out of a hotel parking lot. He stopped the car driven by McIntosh at the corner of St. Clair Avenue and Fairview Drive for failing to signal before changing traffic lanes, a minor traffic violation.

The initial exchange between the two is brief and polite, according to the audio and video from Stratman's dashboard camera. The officer returns to his car, though he is still suspicious of McIntosh and his female passenger.

A check of McIntosh's background revealed weapons, drug and resisting police officer arrests. Stratman called Officer Jeff Blair to the scene with his dog, Demi, who circled the car, then stops abruptly near the rear of the Camaro, according the video. Stratman called for another back-up, Officer Tony Flinn.

Stratman and Flinn approach the car, then there is a blaze of gunfire.

Stratman drops his flashlight, then retreats drawing his gun. The officers return fire.

McIntosh's female passenger slightly opened her car door amid the gunfire. The back windshield of the Camaro explodes after it is struck by a bullet. The passenger did not manage to get out before the car fled the scene.

"I can still feel the sting of the gunpowder against my face from the point-blank muzzle blast roaring from the barrel of the .357 Magnum Dallas McIntosh wielded in our direction and squeezed the trigger repeatedly with the intent to end our lives that night," Flinn told St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida during McIntosh's sentencing on Thursday.

Then-Caseyville Police Sgt. Frank Moore heard the radio transmission, then spotted the gray Camaro headed west on Highway 50 and chased it to Pershing Drive in Centreville, a wounded McIntosh behind the wheel. The female passenger was not injured.

Later, a search of the car uncovered more than $12,000 in cash and baggies of marijuana.

It wasn't McIntosh's first violent altercation with a police officer. On Sept. 6, 2005, a Southern Illinois University Carbondale police officer questioned McIntosh, a student at the time, about his car radio being too loud. McIntosh fled, dragging the officer several feet.

After officers located McIntosh, they found more than $2,600 in cash in McIntosh's pocket and a safe in the trunk. After obtaining a search warrant, officers discovered cannabis and cocaine and two handguns, a 9 mm and a .25-caliber pistol inside the safe.

A search of his apartment turned up more than 320 grams of marijuana, a scale and a bulletproof vest.

McIntosh was charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He also was charged with aggravated battery to a police officer, aggravated fleeing and driving with a license suspended. The drug charges were dismissed, as were the aggravated fleeing and driving on a suspended license charges. He was sentenced to two years in prison for dragging the officer and weapons charge.

"Dallas McIntosh has proven himself to be a continuing danger to law enforcement and the community in general," Stratman said during McIntosh's sentencing hearing. "His actions were carried out in a selfish and ruthless manner. Firing his weapon, causing a high-speed chase and placing his own passenger in great danger just so he could try to continue a life of criminal activity are proof of threat to all," Stratman said.

During the sentencing, St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly argued that McIntosh endangered the lives of the police officers, the female passenger, the citizens of Fairview Heights and East St. Louis, as well the defendant's own life.

"Under the law, every life matters, but for this defendant no life mattered ... that makes him very, very dangerous," Kelly said.

Before Sept. 25, 2012, McIntosh worked sporadically in his family's dry cleaning business. The Camaro had been a present for graduating college. He has spent the last 843 days in St. Clair County Jail. He will be there until he is transferred to the Illinois Department of Corrections. He must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he becomes eligible for parole. With credit for time served, McIntosh won't be eligible for release until he is 62.

McIntosh on Thursday pleaded guilty to aggravated battery of a police officer, aggravated discharge of a firearm, aggravated fleeing and unlawful delivery of cannabis.

Stratman can no longer work as police officer. It's the third time he's taken fire from a suspect. But the incident with McIntosh was different, Stratman said.

"The shooting outcome of the confrontation was by luck and the grace of God, fortunate for me in that I survived," he told the judge Thursday. "But the incident was not without its damages. I have lost strength and partial use of my hand, I live with constant pain in my hand and consequently had my career stolen from me."

In the months after the shooting, Flinn said he had trouble sleeping, waking with nightmares. The 16-year veteran cop said he wants to continue to work as a police officer. But he's also a husband and a father.

"It does make you re-evaluate things, especially when you have little ones," Flinn said. "It makes you consider how much risk you want to take on."

Stratman's adult children haven't seen the video yet. His son, Stratman said, is a Marine and wants to see it. His daughter is having a tougher time. He said he is worried about that.

Stratman, now 55, began working as a dispatcher when he was 19. He became an officer a few years later. Working in a police department is the only job he's ever had. Now, he's trying to make a different plan, to as he says, reinvent his life. A lifetime of training, school and experience thrown away, Stratman said.

But that's the downside, Stratman said.

"I'm still here. That's the upside."

Copyright 2015 the Belleville News-Democrat

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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