A gang member with a criminal history is accused in the shooting of a Valley Brook, Oklahoma police officer on New Year’s Day.
Cory Lee Hartsell was taken into custody on January 3 after his car was located parked at a toy store, police said.
The officer, Brian Southerland, survived, and the police chief reported he was in “good spirits.” However, he was initially in critical condition.
The shooting capped off a year in which shootings of police officers had escalated across the United States.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Police Officer Was Shot During a Traffic Stop
On New Year’s Day, at about 5:40 p.m., Valley Brook Police Officer Brian Southerland pulled a vehicle over at I-240 and Pole Rd., Oklahoma police said in a news release.
“As the officer approached the vehicle the driver pulled a gun and fired multiple rounds at the officer, striking him at least once in the leg. The driver sped away leaving Officer Southerland bleeding at the scene.”
“The officer got out of the car and just barely got to the front end of his car when bullets came from the driver side,” the police chief told News 9.
2. The Officer Was Shot in the Femoral Artery
The police officer’s injuries were life-threatening.
“Officer Southerland was struck in the femoral artery, causing extreme bleeding and a significant threat to his life,” the police news release said.
“A short time later Deputy Johnny Berryman of the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office arrived to scene and rendered aid to the officer by applying a tourniquet to his leg,” read the release.
“Officer Southerland was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. Officer Southerland survived the shooting and is expected to recover.”
A GoFundMe site was established to help the officer. “While all medical bills will be covered by workman’s comp., his personal financial obligations will be very strained during his time of recovery,” the site says.
3. A Manhunt Led to the Arrest of Hartsell
Oklahoma City Police quickly found the suspect vehicle (red Chevy Avalanche) parked in the Toys R’ Us parking lot at 1119 SE 66th. The suspect was not in the vehicle, said the release.
“For the next 24 hours various law enforcement agencies, including the US Marshal’s Service searched for the suspect who was identified as Cory Lee Hartsell (W/M, 10/30/89),” the police news release said.
“Late yesterday evening officers of the Oklahoma City Police Gang Task Force, Criminal Intelligence Unit, the Santa Fe Patrol Division, and US Marshal’s Service developed information as to the whereabouts of Hartsell. Hartsell was apprehended during a traffic stop at SE 44th and Cinderella.”
4. Hartsell Has a Lengthy Criminal History
News 9 reported that Hartsell “has an extensive criminal history with arrests ranging from drug charges to copper theft to grand larceny.” His police mug shot appeared to show him with a black eye.
In addition, police say Hartsell is a “known gang member,” the station reported.
Hartsell was booked into the Oklahoma County jail under charges of Shooting with Intent to Kill and Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.
5. Shootings of Police Officers Escalated in 2016
There were 136 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in the United States in 2016. The last death of the year was Trooper Landon Weaver in Pennsylvania. That shooting also stemmed from a traffic stop.
Their life stories varied somewhat, but to a one they were described as dedicated public servants who embraced the job and for whom it should not have been the time to go. Some left behind pregnant wives.
Of those officers, more than 60 died in shootings, reported Fox News, a 68 percent increase over the previous year. Many of the remaining officers died in traffic accidents. CNN reported 64 died in shootings, over the annual average.
That’s the highest number of LEO deaths since 2011, Time Magazine said.
Assassinations of police officers in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana helped drive a sharp increase over 2015. Twenty-one officers were killed in ambush-style attacks “often fueled by anger over police use of force involving minorities,” said CBS News.
You can see the full list with bios and photos here: