Decatur detective was injured when a suspect in a large sport utility vehicle rammed his squad car

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A sworn affidavit said a Decatur police detective was injured when a suspect in a large sport utility vehicle rammed his squad car before speeding off.

And this ordeal was hardly a new experience for Det. Jason Hesse. He has survived two previous attempts to ram his police vehicle, and one of those incidents is now being prosecuted as a case of attempted murder.

The latest trouble arrived the night of Oct. 18 at the intersection of North 25th Street and East Prairie Avenue when Hesse used his unmarked squad car, with red and blue lights activated, to try and block in a Chevrolet Suburban driven by a 42-year-old Decatur man.

The affidavit said the man was a wanted felon with a revoked license. He had fled from officers several nights earlier after police broke off a chase due to safety concerns when the fleeing driver hit speeds of more than 70 mph in 30 mph residential zones.

The affidavit said that this time, boxed in with Hesse's vehicle facing him, the wanted man decided he was going to force his way out. “(He) proceeded to shift his Suburban into drive and rammed the front of Det. Hesse’s vehicle,” said the affidavit, signed by Officer Clayton Zilz.

“Det. Hesse had attempted to get back into the driver seat of his unmarked vehicle, prior to it being rammed, however the force of the impact pushed the unmarked vehicle backwards, striking Det. Hesse with the inside of the driver’s door. This caused abrasion and bleeding to Det. Hesse’s right lower leg.”

The driver fled again, hitting speeds of 70 mph in 30 mph zones until his tires were deflated after police deployed “spike strips.” He was captured after his vehicle ground to a stop in the 1200 block of East Garfield Avenue.

The driver was booked on preliminary charges of aggravated fleeing, aggravated battery to police, criminal damage and driving while revoked. He remained held in the Macon County Jail on Tuesday with bail set at $85,000, requiring a bond of $8,500 for him to be released.

Hesse is a member of the police Street Crimes Unit which often works alongside the department's Community Action Team targeting gun violence and other serious crime. The CAT team has been the focus of much publicity since two of its officers were shot and wounded Oct. 12 in a shoot-out with a traffic stop suspect, Jamontey O. Neal, 32, who was killed after he had opened fire first.

Police said Hesse had come close to being killed on the night of Sept. 15, 2021, when he had to save himself by jumping over a vehicle driven by suspect Andre D. Cross Jr., who was trying to ram him; the vehicle smashed into the door of Hesse’s police car, right where he had been standing.

Cross, 26, who police said had been armed with a pistol converted into a machine gun, was caught after a high-speed chase. He is pleading not guilty to attempted murder, two counts of armed violence and a charge of being a felon in possession of a weapon. The case is due to go to trial Dec. 12.

And Hesse was in the news again a month later in October of 2021 when his squad car was rammed by a fleeing driver in a stolen vehicle. The driver took off and crashed into a house and he then tried to flee on foot but was disabled after multiple shots from a stun gun and arrested.

Decatur Police Chief Shane Brandel said Hesse's situation illustrates the many dangers his officers face on the street making vehicle stops, and not just from suspects armed with guns. He said police do their best to try to avoid vehicle chases but occasionally run up against suspects willing to go to extreme, and dangerous, lengths to avoid arrest.

All preliminary charges are subject to review by the office of the state's attorney's office.

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