Officer shooting case concludes

Amber Gillenwater

July 30, 2014

GALLIPOLIS — Following nearly two years in the local court system, the case against a Gallia County man accused of shooting and seriously injuring a local police officer has concluded.

During a hearing held Monday, Cole Creighton Miller, 30, of Gallipolis, was sentenced to a total of 20 years of imprisonment for his actions on the morning of Sept. 24, 2012, that led to Ptl. James Bartels of the Gallipolis Police Department being shot and injured.

Appearing in court on Monday were Jeff Adkins, Gallia County Prosecuting Attorney, along with Miller and his counsel Donald L. Regensburger, of Columbus.

Common Pleas Judge D. Dean Evans handed down a sentence of 10 years for a charge of felonious assault — for Miller’s actions in injuring Bartels — a seven year mandatory sentence for a gun specification attached to the first felonious assault charge, as well as two three-year sentences for two additional counts of felonious assault for his actions in attempting to harm two additional peace officers on the night of the shooting.

Evans further ordered that the three-year sentences be served concurrently with each other and consecutively with the sentence imposed for the first charge, for a total of 20 years in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Following Monday’s hearing, Gallia County Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Eric Mulford and Britt Wiseman — who handled the prosecution in this case — commented in a joint statement, thanking the court for imposing the longer sentence recommended by the prosecution.

“We are pleased that the court deviated from the presumption that multiple sentences should be served concurrently when arising from a single incident. Even though the recommended sentence included only three years consecutive to the sentence imposed for the assault on Ptl. Bartels, the 20-year sentence is the longest prison sentence imposed in this county for a single incident in the past several years, except, of course, for murder and rape of children, which generally receive indefinite life sentences,” the statement reads. “The prison sentence reflects the serious nature of the crimes and the severity of the harm cause to Ptl. Bartels.”

The journal entry, filed with the Gallia County Clerk of Courts Office on Tuesday following Monday’s hearing and signed by Evans, states that the court finds that “consecutive sentences are necessary to protect the public and punish the defendant” and that “the harm was so great or unusual that a single term does not adequately reflect [the] seriousness of the conduct.”

Miller, who was scheduled to appear July 21 for a jury trial in this case, entered a last-minute plea agreement on the morning of his trial, pleading guilty to the three counts of felonious assault as outlined in his indictment after he knowingly caused or attempted to cause physical harm to Bartels, Ptl. Shallon Schuldt, and Gallia County sheriff’s deputy Fred Workman on Sept. 24, 2012.

The additional charges of attempted aggravated murder, obstructing official business and resisting arrest were dismissed by the state as part of the plea of agreement as these charges were allied offenses of the other three counts of the indictment.

Miller, who has remained incarcerated in the Southeastern Regional Jail in Nelsonville under a $1 million, 10 percent bond since his arrest on the night of the incident, was previously found competent to stand trial last year following a court-ordered psychological evaluation. A second evaluation was ordered late last year, but the defense later advised the court that the defendant no longer desired to have this second evaluation performed.

The defendant was arrested during the early morning hours of Sept. 24, 2012, after he fired upon police officers who had responded to his McCormick Road residence in reference to a neighbor dispute.

Two city police officers, Bartels and Schuldt, were requested to respond to the scene by the only sheriff’s deputy on duty that evening, Workman, formerly of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, who had been en route to an active methamphetamine lab in the southern end of the county when he was dispatched to the Miller residence.

Upon the arrival of the city police officers, Miller refused to exit his home and, as Workman arrived on scene, the suspect began firing shots at the three officers.

Bartels was struck during the incident, receiving a gunshot wound in the arm from a 12-gauge shotgun, and was rushed to the Holzer Medical Center emergency room by a third city police officer who had arrived on scene after initial shots were fired.

He was later transported to Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W.Va., where he subsequently has undergone extensive surgeries.

Following the shooting, Miller reportedly exited his residence and surrendered to the officers remaining on scene.

During Monday’s hearing, the court ordered that all evidence seized in the case and currently in the possession of the Gallia County Sheriff, prosecutor or Ohio Attorney General, be forfeited to the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office for destruction.

The defendant was further ordered to have no contact with the person or property of Bartels, Schuldt or Workman.

He was credited for 673 days served, along with future custody days while awaiting transportation to the appropriate prison facility.

The defendant must also pay the costs of prosecution and will be subject to a mandatory term of five years of parole following his release from prison.