By Margie Wuebker
Felony charges have been filed in the case of a 19-year-old Celina man who fled the scene of an alleged attempted burglary early Sunday morning and struck two police cruisers in a desperate attempt to avoid capture.
Chad Rammel, 3993 Carmel Church Road, sat quietly in Celina Municipal Court on Monday afternoon as Judge James Scheer explained the latest charges -- felonious assault against a police officer, a first-degree felony, and fleeing and eluding, a third-degree felony.
He also faces charges of operating a vehicle under the influence and failure to control, although Scheer explained these matters will be placed on the "back burner" as prosecution proceeds on the more serious offenses.
There is a possibility additional charges could be added when the case is presented to a grand jury later this month.
"You do not have a bad record," Scheer said looking through the defendant's court file. "And the first time you come in the charges are about as bad as you can get." The judge approved a request by Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox to set bond at $1 million with a 10 percent factor. In response to Rammel's quizzical look, the judge explained release would be possible upon payment of $100,000. No date has been set for a preliminary hearing that will take place within 10 days once court-appointed attorney James Tesno has an opportunity to meet with his client.
"I'm worried about getting my life together," Rammel said quietly. "I really screwed up."
A woman called 911 early Sunday morning to report she had been awakened by someone pounding on the door and rattling the handle of the Hellwarth Road home where she had been staying.
Mercer County Sheriff's deputies responded and Rammel fled the scene in a 1996 GMC Jimmy. He reportedly drove without lights and failed to stop for at least three stop signs.
Two Celina Police cruisers responded north on U.S. 127. Dashboard cameras show the SUV running off the west side of the road to elude the officers. Rammel lost control at that point and went off the east side of the road where he became stuck in the ditch.
The film carries the sound of an engine being gunned as Rammel tries to flee again. Sgt. Tom Wale stepped from his cruiser and noticed Rammel turning the wheels in his direction. The young man allegedly accelerated rapidly giving Wale an instant to dive back in the cruiser before it was struck.
Wale fired three shots hitting the right front tire of the SUV. Rammel backed up and struck the cruiser of Patrolman Brian Taylor. The officer used a flashlight to knock out the driver's side window and then reached inside to get the keys.
Additional footage shows Taylor being swept along as Rammel continues to tries to flee. The officer manages to gain control and the suspect is taken into custody as deputies arrive on the scene.
Chief Dave Slusser told The Daily Standard he was pleased with the performance of his officers.
"Given the events unfolding, they reacted very well," he added. "Both are very fortunate to have escaped without serious injury."
Taylor sustained minor cuts to the hand from the breaking glass.
One cruiser that was damaged during the attempted arrest is back on the street while the other will require significant repairs. Slusser does not have a damage estimate as yet.
If convicted of felonious assault, Rammel faces up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The fleeing and eluding charge could add another five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.