ELYRIA — The Lorain man shot by North Ridgeville police officers in 2010 after he tried to run them down with a car will be released early to the Lorain/Medina Community Based Correctional Facility, a judge ruled Friday.
Jeffrey Phillips, who was serving a four-year prison term, told Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge that he wanted to be reunited with his father, who suffered a heart attack in April.
“I have a lot of people who love me and want me to do right,” said Phillips, 33, who also told Burge he was engaged to be married.
Phillips’ attorney, Michael Stepanik, urged Burge to send Phillips to the community-based correctional facility, saying his client will be released at some point. Stepanik said the skills Phillips would learn at the facility would enable him to live a more productive life.
“Jeffrey has taken a little bit from society, and he wants a chance to give back,” Stepanik said.
Prosecutors, who opposed the release, asked North Ridgeville Police Chief Michael Freeman to make a statement.
Freeman told Burge he had concerns, saying that Phillips committed his new crimes in 2010, while he was still on probation for a 2002 robbery with a gun.
He said Phillips had two OVIs and eight driving suspensions over the years, showing that he does not like to follow the rules.
“Judge, I know you like athletics and have family members who love you,” Freeman said. “So do I. Jeffery could have taken my legs that day or worse, killed me. Make Jeffery understand he does not have the right to do this to me or anyone else.”
He said Phillips led police on a 10.9-mile daytime pursuit through four cities and continued to resist officers when he was tackled.
At the hospital, Phillips stated, “Before he shot me I was gonna run his (expletive) down, blow his (expletive) brains out,” Freeman said.
Freeman, then a lieutenant, Officer Dean Mraz and other officers went to the car dealership where Phillips was working on April 1, 2010, to arrest him on a warrant from Lorain police for a domestic violence incident earlier in the day.
Instead of surrendering, police said Phillips fled officers and got into his 2002 Chrysler 300. One of the officers drew his gun and ordered Phillips to show his hands, but Phillips revved the engine and shouted, “Move (expletive) or I am going to run you over.”
When Phillips was told he would be shot if he drove toward officers, he reportedly replied, “I guess you’ll have to shoot me then.”
He accelerated toward Freeman and Mraz, who opened fire at the car, hitting Phillips several times, including in the left hand, left shoulder and left wrist. He then sped out of the parking lot and led police on a chase that ended at his home in Lorain, where he had punched his sister earlier in the day.
A county grand jury reviewed the case and determined that Freeman and Mraz were justified when they shot Phillips, who has a history of fleeing police. Phillips previously served six years in prison after being convicted of robbing a gas station while armed with a shotgun and leading police on a chase in 2002.
He also led police on chase in 2008, but received a light sentence and a $25,000 payment from the city of Elyria after a corrections officer slammed him face-first into a wall at the city jail.
Burge ordered Friday that Phillips serve three years of probation after an unspecified length of time at the community based correctional facility. He was ordered to take part in Alcoholic Anonymous as directed by his probation officer and get a driver’s license within 18 months.
Upon Phillips’ release he will need to confirm to a 9 p.m. curfew seven days a week, the judge ruled.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.