NELSONVILLE – A Nelsonville Police Officer was hit by a bullet during an officer-involved shooting while responding to a domestic violence call at an apartment on Third Street in Nelsonville Tuesday, the Athens Messenger reported Wednesday. Michael Whitmer, 37, of Nelsonville, was pronounced dead following the incident, NPD Police Chief Scott Fitch told The Messenger Wednesday.
Court records and previous reporting by The Logan Daily News indicate that Whitmer was charged in Hocking County last year after a lengthy standoff with police at his previous residence in Logan.
The NPD officer in the recent incident, KJ Tracy, has been released from the hospital in stable condition, according to Fitch. The chief told The Messenger that Tracy has non-threatening bullet fragments still in his shoulder that may be removed at a later date.
Hocking College Police officer Cecil Morrison also sustained minor injuries during the incident, but was released from the hospital in stable condition Tuesday as well, Fitch told The Messenger.
Reportedly, on Tuesday, NPD officers arrived at the scene and were confronted by Whitmer, who was in a vehicle with his 4-year-old son, Fitch told The Messenger.
Law enforcement officers Tracy and Morrison repeated commands for Whitmer to turn off and exit the vehicle, when Whitmer slammed his vehicle into the NPD cruiser multiple times. During the altercation, Whitmer almost struck Tracy and attempted to run over Morrison, Fitch said.
Fitch said Morrison was then forced to discharge his firearm, and Whitmer was struck multiple times. Officers then moved to remove the child from the vehicle. Fitch said it is not clear at this time how Tracy was struck, and is pending an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation review.
Whitmer appears to have had a similar, though non-fatal, run-in with Hocking County law enforcement in 2020, according to a previous Logan Daily News report. In May of last year, when Logan Police officers responded to a domestic violence call, Whitmer, 36 at the time, allegedly barricaded himself and refused to leave his apartment on Linton Road – leading to an hour-plus standoff.
Hocking County Sheriff’s deputies were called as backup and reportedly surrounded the apartment that May night. Whitmer was eventually subdued, arrested and charged with aggravated menacing, a fifth-degree felony, arrested and transported to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.
Hocking County Municipal Court records from that case indicate that in July 2020 Whitmer changed his address from one on Linton Road in Logan to one on Third Street in Nelsonville.
Records from Hocking County Common Pleas Court show that on Jan. 6 of this year, Whitmer was convicted resisting arrest with a weapon forfeiture specification, a fourth-degree felony; and obstructing official business, a fifth-degree felony. Two first-degree misdemeanor counts of domestic violence were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Whitmer was placed on five years community control probation in that case, ordered not to use or possess alcohol, illegal drugs or pseudophedrine; to have no contact with any persons with a criminal record without permission from the Adult Parole Authority, and to forfeit a .32-caliber revolver.
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