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The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office has reviewed a May 6, 2019, incident in East Hempfield Township that involved two Pennsylvania State Police troopers firing at a fleeing suspect in a vehicle, after the suspect nearly struck one of the troopers.
District Attorney Heather Adams has determined the troopers’ use of force was justified.
Following a lengthy high-speed pursuit across numerous jurisdictions, the two troopers fired at Boyette Graham’s Hyundai on East Main Street near a Turkey Hill parking lot, where Graham had struck an occupied state police cruiser and drove toward a trooper while trying to flee.
Graham, 40, was not struck by gunfire. After the shots were fired, Graham drove a distance before crashing his vehicle and fleeing on foot, swinging a 2 X 4 piece of wood at officers who took him into custody with the use of Tasers.
A team of Lancaster County Detectives responded to the scene to investigate this incident in conjunction with PSP investigators from Troop J.
Five shell casings were found at the shooting scene. Three bullet strikes were found on Graham’s vehicle.
The District Attorney’s Office reviewed reports, interviews, and video regarding Graham’s fleeing attempt and made the following determination:
The police use of force was justified because Graham, in a vehicle, struck an occupied police cruiser and drove at a trooper (who was on foot) while attempting to avoid arrest. He did so after leading police on a pursuit that spanned multiple jurisdictions and many miles. Graham drove at speeds up to and above 130 mph, swerved into opposing lanes of travel, and turned off and on his headlights and taillights to avoid detection/capture.
The conduct illustrated an extreme indifference to the value of human life, specifically police and civilians. It is likely that this life-threatening conduct would have continued had he not crashed his vehicle.
The two troopers – Kurt Goldbach and Harold Fleming - fired shots as Graham accelerated out of the parking lot and onto Main Street, in the direction of Trooper Fleming, who was on foot. Both troopers believed Trooper Fleming to be in mortal danger as Graham drove out of the parking lot.
Graham is charged with numerous offenses, including felony aggravated assault and fleeing, misdemeanor counts of DUI, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and simple assault, and numerous summary traffic violations.
He is at Lancaster County Prison on $500,000 bail. He is presumed innocent.
A narrative summary of the incident:
An East Lampeter Township police officer initially attempted to pull over Graham’s Hyundai after observing the Hyundai traveling at a high speed on Lincoln Highway East (Route 30).
With lights and sirens activated, the officer attempted a vehicle stop, but Graham accelerated east on Route 30, then turned around and traveled west on Route 30 – reaching at least 116 mph.
Graham eventually turned onto Route 283 traveling west then east on that highway, before turning onto Route 230 and Church Street into East Hempfield Township.
Graham evaded two sets of spike strips deployed by police. His speed, at times, exceeded 130 mph. He ran several red lights and stop signs. Numerous departments assisted in the pursuit and arrest effort.
The duration of the pursuit was about 45 minutes.
At the Turkey Hill, police attempted to box in Graham’s vehicle. Numerous officers/troopers demanded Graham stop and exit his vehicle.
Graham – in efforts to get around and away from the cruisers - reversed his vehicle in the direction of Trooper Goldbach, who was on foot. Graham then drove forward, striking an occupied police cruiser as he exited the parking lot, toward Trooper Fleming, who was on Main Street.
Trooper Fleming quickly moved to avoid being struck by Graham’s vehicle.
Trooper Fleming later stated he believed Graham was going to run him over.
MVR footage from police cruisers corroborated troopers’ versions of events.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright