By Margie Wuebker
A Mercer County Sheriff's deputy has been placed on paid administrative leave in the wake of a Sunday afternoon shooting that seriously injured a Columbus man.
Deputy Doug Timmerman shot the 27-year-old suspect, identified as Ricky Driskill, who reportedly lunged at officers with a knife. Driskill remains in the hospital.
The incident began earlier that day when Driskill, driving a 2004 GMC Envoy, reportedly crossed the center line of Watkins Road, northeast of Burkettsville, at 11:50 a.m. and hit a 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass driven by Roger Huwer of St. Henry.
After the St. Henry unit of Mercer County Medical Services and St. Henry Fire Department arrived on the scene, Driskill reportedly fled the scene in a 2000 Chevy Silverado pickup truck owned by first responder Nathan Bomholt of Burkettsville.
The Columbus man apparently drove into a farm field east of Dull Road, about two miles from the accident scene. Apparently unfamiliar with the area, he ended up driving Bomholt's truck over an embankment into the Wabash River. Deputy Timmerman, St. Henry Police Chief Bob Garman and Coldwater Patrolman Randy Waltmire were searching for the suspect when one of the authorities spotted a man walking across an open field, the Mercer County Sheriff's report says. He laid down in the field at one point, and three cruisers drove down a nearby lane to get to his location.
Driskill reportedly flashed a razor knife commonly used in construction as the officers approached. He failed to respond to repeated orders to put the knife down, and pepper spray seemed to have no effect, according to Sheriff Jeff Grey.
Timmerman attempted to disarm the man, who lunged at the officer with knife in hand, the sheriff reported. Timmerman then fired one shot from his 9-mm service weapon hitting Driskill in the left side of the abdomen at 12:20 p.m., according to the sheriff's report.
Driskill fell to the ground but continued to swing the knife at the officers, the sheriff said. Several raps from a police baton failed to dislodge the weapon, and officers approached the downed man once more before a trooper arrived on the scene with a Tazer gun. The Tazer gun was not used, as Driskill allegedly threw the knife in officer Waltmire's direction.
Timmerman sustained a hand injury during the struggle.
Driskill was taken to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater, where he underwent surgery. No information was available from the hospital this morning.
"His condition is no longer life-threatening, and he remains under guard at the hospital," Grey told The Daily Standard this morning. "He should be released later this week."
Timmerman was treated then released at the hospital.
Grey declined to comment regarding items found in Driskill's possession or in his abandoned vehicle. He also would not comment on whether toxicology tests had been ordered to determine the presence of alcohol and/or drugs and what brought the man here to Mercer County, where he reportedly has no relatives.
Authorities were scheduled to meet with representatives of the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office this morning to discuss possible charges.
"Preliminary findings indicate Deputy Timmerman's conduct fell within this department's guidelines," Grey said. "The man remained a threat after the shooting, and the officers exercised restraint in the use of additional deadly force."
An investigation is currently under way with Lts. Matt Grunden and Martin Emerine heading the team. Detectives also are involved in investigating details leading up to the shooting.
Such investigations are initiated whenever a department employee is involved in a shooting or other serious incident. Placing an employee on administrative leave during the course of the investigation is not a disciplinary action, but only routine while the incident is reviewed, according to Grey.
The last shooting involving a deputy took place July 26, 1994, in Cranberry Prairie when Jerry Wolford shot a resident who pointed a rifle at him while responding to a call of shots fired. The resident suffered a neck wound and subsequently recovered.
Wolford was placed on administrative leave until the investigation determined he had acted appropriately in response to the threat of physical harm.