Trooper's Vehicle Runs Over Sheriff's Deputy; Failed To Place Vehicle in Park

LA PLATA, Md. (July 27, 2007) - A Charles County Sheriff’s officer was injured this afternoon when a Maryland State Police Trooper's vehicle ran over both legs of the officer. Trooper Jason L. Wiersma, of the La Plata Barrack, was responding to assist Officer John R. Long, Jr. apprehend an alleged shoplifter at the St. Charles Mall. Wiersma failed to place his vehicle in park when he exited it in order to assist Long apprehend the suspect who had attempted to flee on foot.

At 1:13 p.m. today, Charles County Sheriff’s officers responded to Sears located at 11170 Mall Circle in Waldorf for the report of a shoplifting in progress. As officers were responding, loss prevention personnel from Sears advised the Sheriff’s Office that the suspect had fled the store and was crossing the parking lot. Officer John R. Long, Jr., a 2½-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, saw the suspect running in a parking lot across from the mall in the 3600 block of Crain Highway. He left his cruiser and pursued the suspect on foot.

After hearing a lookout broadcast for the shoplifting suspect, Trooper Jason L. Wiersma of the Maryland State Police La Plata Barracks, responded to the area and arrived as the officer was apprehending the suspect. Wiersma jumped out of his unmarked 2000 Ford Crown Victoria patrol car to assist the officer. Moments later, the patrol car rolled forward over both legs of Officer Long, who had fallen to the ground when he apprehended the suspect.

The preliminary investigation indicates the State Police patrol car was not placed in park before the trooper left the car. The investigation is continuing.

Officer Long was flown by a United States Park Police helicopter to Prince George’s General Hospital. His injuries are not life-threatening and he is expected to fully recover.

The suspect, Mark Joseph Wallace, 21, of Waldorf, was charged with theft valued at less than $100 and is being held at the Charles County Detention Center pending an appearance before a district court commissioner. Officer J. Timko investigated the theft.

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