Officer fires on fleeing vehicle
By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
On May 31, McKenzie County Sheriff’s Deputy Corporal Travis Bateman was nearly struck by a vehicle, resulting in Bateman defensively firing four shots at the vehicle’s tires, with the intent to disable the vehicle.
The incident began at about 10:35 p.m. the night of May 31. Watford City Fire Department firefighters were on their way back to Watford City after clearing from a fire call on Forest Service Road 852, which is located just north of the Theodore Roosevelt Park North Unit. One of the fire crews came across a vehicle in the ditch, and when they went to check on the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle drove off.
The fire crew then contacted the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office to report the erratic driving behavior of the driver of the vehicle. Bateman responded to the call for service and found the vehicle going northbound toward Watford City on U.S. Highway 85.
Bateman was following the vehicle to observe the driver’s driving behavior when it rapidly accelerated and passed a vehicle, nearly going head-on into another vehicle. At this point, Bateman activated his emergency lights and attempted to stop the vehicle. The driver continued to accelerate to over 120 miles per hour.
The driver eventually pulled over in the area of 23rd Street NW and U.S. Highway 85. Bateman stopped ahead of the vehicle to attempt to take the driver into custody and prevent further risk to other drivers on the roadway. As Bateman was moving around the back of his squad car, the vehicle accelerated toward his position, spinning its wheels in the process.
The vehicle nearly struck Bateman. And in defense, Bateman fired four shots at the vehicle’s tires with the intent to disable the vehicle. The driver then fled off in the vehicle at a high rate of speed southbound on U.S. Highway 85 and turned his lights off. Bateman re-engaged his pursuit of the vehicle to the Indoor RV Park, located at 2046 125th Avenue NW in Watford City. Bateman stopped at the entrance of the Indoor RV Park and waited for backup to arrive before continuing.
Once back-up units arrived, law enforcement officers were able to locate the vehicle and the two people who were identified as being the occupants of the vehicle, 33-year-old Sampson Lowery of Louisiana and 34-year-old Ashley Roberts of Oklahoma.
Both were arrested and charged with a handful of charges including Reckless Endangerment, a Class C Felony, Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Peace Officer, a Class A Misdemeanor, and Reckless Driving, a Class B Misdemeanor.
As is the Sheriff’s policy, Bateman was placed on office duty until the investigation results are provided. The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation was contacted and has finished the investigation of the shooting. According to the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office, expectations of Bateman returning to full duty are highly anticipated.
The McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Watford City Police Department, the North Dakota Highway Patrol, the North Dakota BCI, and the public for their assistance in this matter.