Video Shows Oologah Officer's Crash During Police Chase
TALALA, Oklahoma - A citizen and an Oologah police officer were shot last week during a police chase that started in Talala and ended in Kansas.
Video captured the 24-mile-long chase that reached 111 miles an hour as suspects fired shots out the back window from an assault rifle at the pursuing officers.
The Talala officer who made the stop said as bullets flew into his patrol car, he prayed God would protect everyone.
He believes God answered those prayers and calls last Thursday, “a day of miracles.”
Talala officer Stephen Pales stopped the driver for speeding but said when no one in the car had an Oklahoma drivers' license - and he smelled alcohol - he called for backup. That's when Oologah officer Charles Neill arrived.
The officers asked the driver to turn off the vehicle, but he took off instead. Just two miles into the pursuit the suspects began shooting at the officers.
"I could see the back window break, fire coming out and heard the shots coming into my patrol car," Pales said.
When Pales slowed down to see if he'd been hit Neil continue the pursuit as more bullets flew at them.
"I had advised Charles they were shooting with a long rifle gun, which means the rounds would penetrate the windshield, the car, our vests," Pales said.
The suspects also shot at citizens on the highway, so you might think the officers' overriding emotion was anger, but Pales said he was thinking something else entirely.
"This is the day I'm going to have to take someone's life, so I had compassion, but I have a duty to do and continued to pursue. While bullets were coming at me, I was going to them," he said.
Then a bullet went through Neil's windshield and into his forehead.
Video shows he didn't have time to react, or hit the brakes, as his car veered off the road, rode the embankment then went into a barrel roll and flipped end-over-end as tires and parts flew everywhere.
"In my mind I knew he was dead or dying. To see that violent of a crash, I didn't know what I was pulling up on. My mind goes from pursuit mode to rescue mode. I wanted to save Charles' life," Pales said.
Fuel poured out of the car while Pales and others pulled Neill out, feet first, and got him away from the car.
Pales said he could see the bullet hole in Neill's forehead and was amazed when he not only talked, but walked across the street.
All three suspects were arrested, and Neill went home from the hospital Monday.
Talala Chief Phillip Coe said this is an important reminder that there's no such thing as a routine traffic stop and that police work can quickly turn dangerous and even deadly.