The scene that played out early Tuesday morning in rural Ellis County was one Sheriff Ed Harbin had hoped never would happen.
But being in law enforcement for several years has brought Harbin to the realization that the job isn’t always an easy one.
In the case Tuesday, a sheriff’s deputy drew his weapon and ended an altercation with deadly force after other means failed to subdue the subject.
“You have to make a split-second decision,” Harbin said. “You’ve got a hundredth of a second to make a decision. You use your training and experience.”
A high-speed chase eventually ended near the Ellis-Rooks County line when the driver of the fleeing vehicle approached the sheriff’s deputy in pursuit.
“Any chase, you’re on pins and needles,” Harbin said Tuesday afternoon. “You just hope nobody gets hurt in the chase.”
The initial stop happened in the 1800 block of Vine by an officer with the Hays PD. The driver initially complied with the officer, then sped off — reaching speeds of approximately 70 mph on Vine.
The sheriff’s deputy then picked up the pursuit near the Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 183 interchange.
The chase reached speeds in excess of 100 mph north of Hays.
The driver went into the west ditch once, then corrected back on the road. He later tried to pass a car and ended up in the west ditch, coming to a stop in a field a third of a mile south of the county line.
The driver was ordered to the ground by the deputy, and he initially complied. He then stood up in a confrontational manner and refused to obey the commands of the deputy, according to a release from the Ellis County Attorney’s Office.
He was tased twice by the deputy, but it had no effect on him. The driver knocked the deputy to the ground.
The deputy pulled his weapon and told the driver to get back. The driver continued to attack the officer, trying to take his gun.
The deputy fired multiple shots, striking the driver who died at the scene.
“It’s tough,” Harbin said. “It’s tough to see it happen and the emotions the officer goes through. It’s not easy at all.”
“Law enforcement is a very tough job,” said Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees. “They have to quickly perceive what is happening and make the best decision. They can extend an olive branch or a pure arrow of war if they need to go that direction.”
The deputy was treated for injuries sustained in the altercation and released from Hays Medical Center. He is on administrative leave pending the ongoing investigation by the Ellis County coroner and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
The name of the deputy and the driver were not being released due to the ongoing investigation, according to Drees.
“I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s very tough,” Harbin said. “It’s one thing you hope never happens.”
Ellis County Sheriff’s deputies don’t wear body cameras, but they do have dash cams. Drees said he would not comment on the dash cam of the deputy’s vehicle since the investigation is ongoing.
There was only one male in the fleeing vehicle and one deputy in the sheriff’s vehicle.
It is the first time a sheriff’s department officer has been involved in an officer-involved shooting that led to the death of a suspect since 2006.
On Jan. 25, 2006, Aaron Mileson and Alicia Cardell were wanted for questioning in a homicide investigation in Utah. The two ended up leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase, with speeds reaching 110 mph on Interstate 70.
The two eventually crashed their car near an overpass. Mileson began firing at responding law enforcement, and he and Cardell were killed by officers when they returned fire.
The officer-involved shooting was the second in less than three months to hit the Hays community and the third in northwest Kansas.
On Aug. 18, Joseph Weber was killed when Hays Police Department Sgt. Brandon Hauptman and Weber were involved in a struggle for the officer’s gun. Weber was shot once and died along Timber Drive.
On Sept. 16, a Colorado man stopped on Interstate 70 in Sherman County. When a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper stopped, Caleasana Sherlton Green allegedly charged the trooper with a machete in his hand.
Green was shot and taken to the hospital in Goodland before being transferred to a Denver hospital. He had his first court appearance Oct. 25, charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.