South Bethany officer injured by unruly suspect

Police reported this week that alcohol was a factor in an incident that began as a missing-person case and ended with a severely injured police officer.

On Aug. 8, the South Bethany Police Department responded to a report of a missing person. When officers arrived on scene, it turned out to concern a 25-year-old white man who had left his friends to swim in the bay, said Cpl. Patrick Wiley, public information officer for the SBPD.

He was afloat at the southern tip of town, between the Plymouth canal and the Bayview Park community, Wiley said.

“He was over the legal limit. Alcohol was involved,” the officer reported.

A civilian agreed to transport one SBPD officer to the man by boat, while the other remained on shore to intercept the subject, who reportedly yelled expletives at the boat.

“He eventually did make it to the edge of the shoreline, right there on Plymouth Canal, into the marsh area, and he was taken into custody,” Wiley said.

“This guy was very disorderly. He was cursing at both officers, using racial language, and he actually spit on both officers,” Wiley said. “He physically assaulted both officers, and one officer, as a result of his injuries, is on medical leave right now.

“After the suspect was taken into custody, the officers were trying to get him into their patrol vehicle, and that’s when Cpl. Marlon Miller was injured,” Wiley said.

Miller may need surgery, said Police Chief Troy Crowson, and the SBPD will be short an officer for several months, as a result.

Once the subject was wrangled into the police car, police said, he then head-butted another officer who accompanied him in the back.

According to the SBPD’s initial report, the man was transported to JP Court 3, arraigned and committed to Sussex Correctional Institute on charges of offensive touching of a law enforcement officer, plus assault on a police officer. Wiley said this week that he did not have information on any bail set on the suspect, as a second police report was being drafted with additional information.

The subject was a visitor to the area, with a California address.

Wiley said the officers who bore the brunt of the subject’s violence are “both outstanding officers. [Those risks] are just part of the job.”