Deputy testifies he feared for his life at end of high-speed chase

Judge rules probable cause exists to continue attempted murder charges

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OREGON — An Ogle County Sheriff’s deputy testified Dec. 7 that he thought he was “going to die” when an Ohio man fleeing a Stephenson County deputy veered his car in an attempt to avoid being apprehended.

Patrol Sergeant Michael Halfman testified during a preliminary hearing for Brian K. Taylor, 49, of Massillon, Ohio, who has been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of aggravated battery to a police officer, one count of aggravated assault of a police officer, two counts of aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, one count of unlawful display of a license plate and one count of Class A speeding 35-plus mph over the speed limit.

Judge John Redington ruled probable cause existed to continue the case. Taylor has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Brian K. Taylor

Halfman testified he had been dispatched at 12:15 p.m. to assist with a high speed chase that had originated in Stephenson County.

He said he had parked his squad car at the intersection of Freeport and Milledgeville roads and was ready to deploy “stop sticks” to flatten Taylor’s tires when he saw Taylor and the Stephenson County squad coming at a “high rate of speed” in the southbound lane.

He said Taylor’s Mazda swerved into the northbound lane and then directly at him causing him to “shuffle” to try to avoid from being hit as the Mazda veered into the ditch.

“I thought he was going to hit me. I thought I was going to die,” Halfman said.

Earlier in the preliminary hearing, Stephenson County Deputy Anthony Miller testified he started pursuing Taylor around at 11:59 a.m. in Dakota, Illinois, on Route 75, after clocking him at 70 mph in a 55 mph zone.

“It took me a while to catch up with him,” Miller said, noting he had turned on his sirens and lights. “He did not pull over.”

Miller said he pursued Taylor to U.S. Route 20 when he realized he was fleeing. He testified that Taylor made “abrupt turns” and went through a ditch and over a median while “appearing to smile” before entering Freeport. He said Taylor disobeyed stop signs and traffic signals during the pursuit with speeds reaching 110 mph when going west on Route 20.

The chase then went south into Ogle County on Illinois Route 26 and eventually Freeport Road.

“I had the siren on the entire time,” Miller said.

As the vehicles reached the intersection of Freeport and Milledgeville roads, Miller said he could clearly see Halfman and his parked squad in the northbound lane.

“I clearly saw the sergeant standing there,” said Miller, referring to Hoffman. He said the Mazda veered toward Halfman and then the ditch before entering the ditch and then exiting the ditch, eventually striking his squad car.

He said the Mazda came to rest in the ditch and Taylor was apprehended.

Redington set Taylor’s next court date for Dec. 14, at 1 p.m.

Taylor was represented in court by Public Defender Michael O’Brien and remains in custody with bail set at $500,000. Only prosecution witnesses testify at preliminary hearings.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen oversees production and content of 9 community weeklies and has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.