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Lincoln man sentenced to up to six years in prison for high-speed chase in Fremont

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Zachary Shannon

Shannon

A 29-year-old Lincoln man was sentenced to four to six years in the Nebraska State Penitentiary Monday for a 6-mile, high-speed car chase with law enforcement through Fremont last year.

Zachary W. Shannon previously pleaded no contest to possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, operating a vehicle to avoid arrest and possession of a financial transaction device in the Dodge County District Court on July 26.

On Jan. 2, 2020, a Dodge County Sheriff’s Office deputy saw a vehicle with expired license plates parked at a south Fremont gas station shortly after 3:30 a.m.

After the deputy attempted to make contact with the vehicle, it fled the parking lot at a high rate of speed. The deputy entered into a pursuit, which lasted around 6 miles and reached speeds of more than 100 mph.

The pursuit continued into Saunders County as the vehicle proceeded toward a gated community at Woodcliff Lake. After forced to come to a stop at the entrance, the vehicle rammed it open.

The vehicle continued, striking railroad crossing arms before turning and sliding into a power pole guide wire. It backed up and began driving into a residence’s yard before becoming stuck in the snow.

The driver, identified as Shannon, fled on foot and was found behind a residence before being taken into custody. He was found to have a prior conviction from 2020 for flight to avoid arrest.

Shannon was also found to have a suspended Nebraska driver’s license and four active warrants for his arrest out of Lancaster County, including theft by unlawful taking, assault by mutual consent, operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest and failing to surrender to the county’s corrections department.

During an inventory search of Shannon’s vehicle, law enforcement found two bags of marijuana totaling almost 50 grams, as well as four transaction devices including credit cards and checks that did not belong to him.

Shannon was transported to Fremont Methodist Health, where medical staff told law enforcement they believed Shannon had consumed a large amount of controlled substances.

Deputy Dodge County Attorney Emily Beamis said Shannon’s “extensive” criminal record spanned back to age 15 and said he was at high risk for re-arrest.

“Based on his criminal history, as well as his complete disregard for the public in this case, the state is seeking a term of four to six years incarceration,” she said.

Shannon’s attorney asked Judge Geoffrey Hall for a shorter term of three to six years, as he said his client would likely see additional jail time with his Lancaster County cases.

“Sir, you put many people at great risk by your conduct,” Hall told Shannon. “As your attorney has stated, you’re not a candidate for probation.”

Hall, who said he was troubled by the case, told Shannon that he was at a “crossroads.”

“It’s up to you,” he said. “You can either turn your life around — it’s going to take hard work — or continue on this path, which will lead to basically a lifetime of prison time and perhaps an early grave.”

Hall sentenced Shannon to four to six years in prison for the drug delivery charge, one year for avoiding arrest and four to six years for possessing the transaction devices to run concurrently. He also gave Shannon credit for 254 days previously served on all three counts.

In other district court news on Monday:

  • Eric. J. Shortell, 35, of Mission Hills, Kansas, was sentenced to 30 months of intensive supervised probation for attempted possession of a controlled substance and attempted assault by a confined person. On Dec. 20, 2020, a DCSO deputy pulled Shortell over for committing a traffic violation. The deputy smelled a marijuana odor from the vehicle and asked Shortell to exit the vehicle. During a search of the vehicle, the deputy found two baggies of meth. Later that night, a deputy was dispatched to a report of an inmate assault at the Dodge County Corrections facility. The deputy viewed security footage of Shortell striking another inmate, who had several lacerations to his face, only stopping once correctional officers intervened. Shortell pleaded no contest to the charges on Jan. 28. Shortell’s attorney said her client had recently received his commercial driver’s license, was employed in Kansas City and had secured his own apartment. She also said Shortell had received support from his family and had a positive attitude about his sobriety. Hall sentenced Shortell to months of ISP for each count to run concurrently. He also ordered him to take part in 60 hours of community service, a weekly-12 step program, cognitive program and relapse prevention.
  • Erich S. Kirchmann, 35, of Fremont was sentenced to 18 months of ISP for shoplifting, obstructing a peace officer and two counts of operating a vehicle to avoid arrest. On Dec. 4, 2020, Fremont Police Department officers were made aware of a shoplifting incident at Fremont Mall totaling $527.50. An officer located the suspected vehicle, which refused to pull over, had no headlights on and ran a red light. DCSO made contact with the suspect, identified as Kirchmann, who did not have a valid Nebraska license. Kirchmann pleaded no contest to shoplifting and avoiding arrest on Jan. 28. He failed to appear in court on April 19 and a bench warrant was placed for his arrest. On May 20, an FPD officer observed Kirchmann unconscious in a parked vehicle with a black bowl, foil and syringe on his lap. After the officer instructed Kirchmann to leave the vehicle, he started the car and drove away from the scene. On Monday, Kirchmann pleaded no contest to avoiding arrest and obstructing an officer and waived his presentence investigation. Dodge County Attorney Paul Vaughan said the state was seeking a term of probation, which Kirchmann’s attorney agreed with. Kirchmann’s attorney said his client had no violations while in jail and had a job set up. Kirchmann said he had a “rough” 2020 with health issues and shoplifted out of desperation, which he said he was “embarrassed” by. He thanked the county, as jail had made him healthier both physically and mentally, and said he was mature enough to take advantage of probation. Hall sentenced Kirchmann to 18 months of probation on each of the four counts to run concurrently. He also ordered Kirchmann to obtain a co-occurring evaluation and take part in a weekly 12-step program. Additionally, Hall revoked Kirchmann’s license for 60 days and ordered him to work to get it reinstated.
  • Jeannie D. McCoy, 51, of Fremont pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. On July 10, an FPD officer made contact with McCoy, who was talking to herself and entering into strangers’ residences. After taking McCoy home, officers discussed her drug use with her and were given consent to search the residence. Officers found syringes, pipes and a plastic bag of meth under a bed during the search. Hall found McCoy guilty, ordered a PSI and set her sentencing for Oct. 12.
  • Joseph M. McIntosh, 44, of Fremont had his bond reduced to 10% of $1,000. McIntosh is facing a charge of carrying a concealed weapon. McIntosh’s attorney said her client was facing eviction and needed his bond lowered. She also said McIntosh had a job offer pending and was at minimum flight risk. Beamis opposed the reduction, saying that McIntosh had a lengthy criminal history and several previous failures to appear. Hall approved the reduction and set McIntosh’s status hearing for Nov. 1.
  • Keith F. Shear, 37, of Fremont had his status continued to Nov. 1. Shear, who was not present in court, is facing a third-offense driving under the influence charge. Shear’s attorney said his client had no prior failures to appear and might have been confused with a county court date set for Tuesday. Deputy Dodge County Attorney Thomas Gross did not ask for a warrant for Shear’s arrest, and Hall approved the continuance.
  • Aryan C. Petersen, 30, of Fremont and Jordyn H. Hansen, 21, were not present for their hearings on motions to revoke their probations. Bench warrants of $150,000 were issued for each of their arrests.

What looks like a scene from "Get Out" is former police detective Lionel Womack's disturbing reality and the center of an excessive force lawsuit against Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Rodriguez of Kiowa County, Kansas.I rewatched it four times, just trying to get some sort of understanding as to why that officer felt justified in using deadly force.Womack's wife and police officer with the Kansas City, Kansas, police department trying to make sense of the Aug. 15 encounter. Her husband, run over intentionally."To me, it showed a blatant disregard for human life. I don't see any justification for using deadly force in that situation."Womack told the Associated Press the situation started on his drive back home from a business trip in California. Kansas Highway Patrol initiated a chase, saying in an email it saw a car traveling at more than 100 miles per hour. Later sheriff's deputies from Pratt County and Kiowa County joined the chase that ended on this dirt road. Womack said: "When the first officer turned his lights on, I pulled over and complied ... exactly as you're supposed to. But when three additional vehicles pulled up quickly and started to surround my car, I freaked out. That's when I took off. It was a 'fight or flight' moment, and I was going to live.""He's not one who scares easily. So for him to express to me that he was in fear for his life, I think that he was definitely in fear for his life."As he ran, deputies drove after him.Rodriguez hitting Womack with his truck. The 35-year-old sustained serious injuries, including to his back and pelvis, according to the lawsuit. It's been four months since the chase. Womack is jailed on felony charges of attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and interference with a law enforcement officer, as well as several misdemeanor traffic citations. Kiowa County Sheriff Chris Tedder has not responded to requests for comment, and Rodriguez remains on patrol. The case -- renewing serious questions about use of force, and what law enforcement should do when someone is fleeing.

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