Troopers who fired guns during high-speed pursuit cleared

West Chester >> No charges will be filed against three Pennsylvania state troopers who discharged their firearms following a high-speed chase May 23 on Old Baltimore Pike in London Grove Township

The finding on Friday by the Chester County District Attorney’s office clears all of the troopers, who were on duty and were not named.

At 11:21 p.m. on May 23, the state police received a call for an erratic driver in the area of Route 1 and Route 796 in Chester County. Two marked state police patrol vehicles responded. Officers observed the driver of a Saturn, later identified as Brian Touchton, 41, of Coatesville, weaving and operating the vehicle with an expired registration.

The troopers attempted to pull the Saturn over. But Touchton fled, with the troopers in pursuit. The troopers tried to box the car in, but Touchton continued to flee. Touchton eventually turned into a large, open area where mushroom compost is stored on Old Baltimore Pike in Avondale.

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The troopers boxed in the Saturn, which was now stopped, and they exited their vehicles. The scene was dark and extremely dusty from the car chase. Once the troopers were on foot and while there was still contact between the vehicles, Touchton attempted to flee by placing the Saturn in reverse, police said. Three troopers then discharged their service weapons. The Saturn was hit by one round in a tire.

However, Toucton did not stop, but kept fleeing. The troopers again pursued the Saturn. A third state police vehicle joined the chase. Touchton eventually drove behind a building and became stuck in the underbrush. Touchton, then surrendered to the troopers. He was not injured.

The District Attorney’s oficfe reviewed all of the underlying evidence in the incident and the relevant statutes and precedents regarding the use of force by the troopers who discharged their firearms and concluded that no charges will be filed against the troopers.

Touchton has been charged with DUI, fleeing and eluding police, reckless endangerment, and other offenses. He currently is incarcerated at Chester County Prison after failing to post bail.

Touchton, 32, of West Caln, was sentenced to two to four years in prison for a high-speed, drunken-driving chase he led state police troopers on through the back roads of West Caln and Sadsbury until the troopers eventually forced him off the road.

In 2009, Touchton pled guilty to charges of driving under the influence, recklessly endangering another person, fleeing and eluding and driving under suspension following a high-speed chase on North Sandy Hill Road in West Caln on May 24 at 1 a.m,, not far from the home Touchton shared with his parents and young son. The chase reached speeds over 90 mph and saw Touchton ram his car into the troopers’ patrol vehicle in an attempt to evade them. The troopers noticed that the 2007 Dodge Caliber that Touchton was driving was speeding and crossing the median line. When they put on their lights and siren, instead of stopping Touchton sped up and tried to escape. The two cars sped down Martins Corner Road onto Route 340 and Route 82, eventually ending up on Business Route 30. At one point on Manor Road, Touchton turned right and slammed his car into the troopers’ driver’s side. The officers were able to force Touchton off the road after he turned into a residential street off Route 30 just across the border in Lancaster County. He jumped from the car and tried to run from the troopers, but was tackled. Cessna, during the chase, fell and tore abdominal muscles that he had to be treated for at Brandywine Hospital.

It was Touchton’s third arrest for driving under the influence. He registered a 0.18 blood alcohol count the night of the chase, more than twice the legal limit for DUI.

About the Author

Fran Maye

Fran Maye is an award-winning journalist and a graduate of Shippensburg University. He and his wife Marianne live in East Marlborough. He enjoys golf and is a 4.0 tennis player. Reach the author at kennettpaper@gmail.com or follow Fran on Twitter: @kennettpaper.