A 24-year-old man accused of fleeing from a traffic stop and firing shots at a Belton police officer on Saturday night has been charged with first-degree assault, resisting arrest and armed criminal action, according to court records.
Belton police arrested Isaac DeWayne Cotton Jr. following the incident. The Cass County prosecuting attorney’s office filed charges on Sunday.
Police said in a Facebook post that the officer involved in the incident “was not struck and is doing fine.”
According to a probable cause statement, the officer saw a silver 2013 Toyota Corolla at Missouri 58 and Missouri Y with broken tail light just a few minutes before 7 p.m. Saturday. The car went westbound on Missouri 58 and then turned right to go north on Chestnut Street. Court records said the officer tried to pull the car over, but vehicle didn’t stop. The car came to a stop sign at North Oak Street, turned left and reached a cul-de-sac. Police said the driver opened the door and jumped out of the vehicle while the car was still moving.
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The police officer left his own vehicle and chased the driver on foot after the driver fled into a grassy area between North Oak Street and Sunny Circle. That’s when police said the driver turned and fired “at least two shots” at the officer “from an unknown handgun.” Court records indicated that the officer went to the ground, thinking he had been hit by the gunfire, and called out on the radio, “Shots fired, officer down.”
The court records also reference a witness who was in the police vehicle with the officer. Belton police later confirmed a report Sunday that the witness was a citizen participating in a ride-along.
The witness told police that two passengers in the suspect vehicle went inside an apartment in the 200 block of North Oak Street. Police spoke with the passengers and were given consent to search the residence for any additional people.
In separate interviews, the passengers, a brother of the suspect and the brother’s girlfriend, told police that the driver, Cotton, refused to stop after the officer tried to pull him over. Both passengers said they were hanging out with the suspect prior to the incident, and said the suspect appeared to be nervous when making eye contact with the officer at Missouri 58 and Missouri Y.
In the police interview, the suspect’s brother and his girlfriend also denied having any knowledge of the driver being armed. The female passenger said she reached her hands toward the brake to stop the car, and the male passenger said he got out of the car with his hands in the air, believing that the officer had shot his brother. Both passengers told police they heard gunshots after the driver fled from the car. The passengers said they left the car after a nearby resident invited them over to an apartment.
Police also interviewed another witness, a resident of the apartment who said she was standing outside when she saw an officer run after the driver. The witness said she heard one gunshot followed by at least two more shots.
Inside the glove box of the Corolla, police said they found .38 caliber bullets, but after a search of the area where the driver allegedly fired shots, police said they didn’t find a firearm or shell casings.
The driver, later identified as Cotton, was arrested hours later after eluding police.
Police said Cotton, of Belton, was located with the registered owner of the Corolla after a traffic stop in Lawrence, Kan.
Court records indicated that Cotton had an active Kansas felony warrant for two counts of attempted aggravated robbery and a history of arrests for probation violation, destruction of property, theft, trespassing, interfering with law enforcement, vehicle theft, kidnapping, driving while suspended and failure to appear.