Man Gets Life In Chase That Badly Hurt Oologah Police Officer
NOWATA, Oklahoma - A judge sentenced a man to life in prison for his part in a police chase that left an Oologah officer badly hurt.
A Nowata County judge on Friday gave Cesar Rios, 25, four life terms and set them to run concurrently. That means Rios will be 62 before he's eligible for parole.
While Cesar Rios and his attorney asked for leniency so Rios could get out of prison and re-establish his family relationships, the judge was firm - telling Rios it was amazing there wasn't more harm done during the car chase and shootout that left an Oologah officer seriously injured.
On the stand, Rios blamed his crimes on a drug addiction that started when he was 13.
Nowata County was the midpoint of the high-speed pursuit and where the crash happened.
The officer in the car was fired on dozens of times, eventually getting hit in the forehead.
"Still receiving treatment, probably going to be a couple more years before I'm able to return to work," said the injured officer, Officer Charles Neill.
Rios faced the judge to get four life terms, the only mercy being that Rios could serve them all at once.
Leaving the courthouse for prison, Rios kicked at the elevator and swore at reporters.
The district attorneys for Nowata and Rogers County said the sentence was fair.
"To actively pursue someone who is actively trying to kill you, for over 14 minutes, at speeds over 100 miles an hour, is amazing, and the severity of the sentence reflects that," said Rogers County DA Matt Ballard.
The shooting and crash left Neill injured for life with a loss of income because of a gap in support for injured first responders.
"There are a lot of programs for officers killed in the line of duty but officers injured on the job fall outside that zone and there's nothing out there to help them," Neill said.
"His recovery to the extent he's been able to recover, and the job those guys were doing that day was remarkable," said Nowata County DA Kevin Buchanan.
Rios will get another 10 days in the county jail in Nowata before he's transferred to prison. His life sentence is an 85-percent-crime, meaning he will be about 62 years old before he's eligible for parole.
Prosecutors said Rios was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Alejandro Garcia that was being chased up Highway 169 in May of 2015. The chase began in Talala and ended when the three ditched the vehicle in South Coffeyville.
Police arrested Rios and Roxanne Mendoza a short time later. Garcia carjacked an elderly man and led Kansas authorities on another chase before being arrested the next morning.
Prosecutors said the three shot at the officers who were pursuing them, hitting Oologah officer Charles Neill and causing his squad car to roll over. Neill survived but is still recovering from his injuries.
A judge sentenced Garcia to life in prison without parole in July or 2016.
Last November, Mendoza got 10 years in prison for her part in the incident.