Terre Haute News
Indiana Central News
Terre Haute, Indiana
Terre Haute, Indiana
By Lucy Perry
Indiana Central News
A man and two women were hospitalized in a crash following a verbal altercation at a downtown hotel with with a suspect -- who was later arrested in a subequent and lengthy high- speed police pursut Sunday morning.
Chance D. Kernstein, 36, of Lewis, was booked into the Vigo County Jail around 6 a.m. He is charged with criminal recklessness, false informing, resisting law enforcement, intimidation, pointing a firearm and reckless driving. He also was wanted on warrants for possession of meth and escape from lawful detention.
Because of multiple allegations of misconduct Sunday, three Terre Haute Police Department officers have been placed on administrative leave, according to Cheif Shawn Keen. The investigation was turned over to the FBI, according to the Vigo County Prosecutor's Office, due to multiple agencies involved in the incident. Prosecutor Terry Modesitt expects the investigation to take a few weeks before being turned back over to the department for review.
The following agencies assisted THPD: West Terre Haute Police, Indiana State Police, Indiana State University Police and the Vigo County Sheriff's Departments.
The probable cause affidavit includes narratives regarding the events of the incident from several THPD officers, including: Cody Tidd, Travis Clements, Justin Gant, Vasco Billberry, Ryan Plasse, Daniel Johnson amd Brian Hall.
The officers all described a dangerous situation from start to end, with a trail of damage left behind. And, a couple officers admit to using physical force on the suspect while apprending him after he again attempted to flee on foot. They said they were doing what they are trained to do with a hostile and unpredictable suspect, which they believed might still be armed at the time.
Officer Plasse explained that he had joined in the pursuit when he victim crashed his vehicle as a result of Kernstein allegedly firing a shot at the 2017 Maroon Dodge Ram pickup truck at Eighth and Ohio Streets. A bulet hole was found on the side of the truck bed.
While speaking with the victim at a local hospital, Plasse observed his face to be covered in blood and he also suffered a leg injjury. He reportedly said he had been out driving, stopped at McDonald's earlier for food and then was westbound on Wabash Avenue. Due to the road being blocked off, he had to turn around in the Candlewood Suites parking lot at Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue.
He was confronted by a group of three men as he drove past them in the back lot. He then drove up to them and Kernstein reportedly began insulting him and his truck. An argument ensued and Kernstein allegedly theatened to kill the man.
Kernstein allegedly pointed a silver revolver at him.
The victim said he drove away and noticed the suspect get on a motorcycle to follow him. Just as he was calling 911, Kernstein pulled up to him and pointed the handgun at him. He heard at least one shot fired.
The victim sped away to escape the gunshots and incidentally struck the driver's side of a Chevrolet Malibu a block away. This caused his truck to roll over. The woman in the passenger car was transported to the hospital for injuries suffered in the crash. A passenger in her car had left the scene to seek medical treatment on her own and arrived at the same hospital a short time later. All of the injuries reported were believed to be non life-threatening.
Officer Hall reported that he joined in the pursuit, along with an Indiana State Police trooper, until it ended in Lewis at SR 159. The suspect was ultimately apprehended there, near the Clay Co. line, in a construction zone.
Officer Johnson explained that when Kernstein stopped his motorcyle, he drew his department-issued gun. He alleges Kernstein grabbed an object and began walking towards him in an aggressive manner. He said he was fearful that the suspect would use the hammer to attempt to hurt him and fight. He put the gun back in the holster and got out his taser when the suspect refused to cooperate with orders. Johnson said he used the taser on the suspect's back. The suspect allegedly made a sudden movement , as if to reach for his waistband area. Johnson said he was thinking the suspect might still be armed, so he attempted to kick his should area to prevent him from moving his arm after verbal command were not effective. Because the suspect kept moving around, Johnson's aim for the shoulder failed and he instead kicked Kerstein near on his head, near his ear.
Officer Gant said as he exited his vehicle, he could see Johnson running after the suspect, who had laid his motorcycle down and was fleeing on foot.
Gant said he had had pulled his gun from its holster after seeing the suspect grab a piece of construction equipment. He then noticed Johnson use a taser on the the suspect. The suspect was still not cooperating with officers. Gant put his gun back in the holster, walked up to Kernstein and explains that he kicked the suspect in the right side of his torso. The force caused a sharp pain in Gant's foot.
Hall said he observed Gant and Johnson as the suspect got off his motorcycle and attempted to flee on foot. Johnson, with a a taser ready to use, and Gant were fighting with the suspect. Kernstein had allegedly picked up a small sledge hammer and was keeping his arms under him. Hall said he gave Kerstein a knee to his lower back to loosen his left arm. The state trooper was able to put handcuffs on him at that time.
While all this was going on, officers from other agencies were present. At least one questioned what he believed to be use of excessive force.
Meanwhile , Officer Billberry reported that he was able to recover the suspect's cellphone, which he dropped during the pursuit, along with other items. Billberry was unable to locate a handgun.
At the hospital, Kernstein continued to be uncooperative. Johnson said he was physicaly and verbally disruptive the entire time, before being released to the jail.
While en route to the jail, Johsnon said Kernstein's demeanor changed. He told Johnson that he is bipolar and hears voices in head that make him do crazy stuff.
Suddenly, he said, " I deserved what you guys did." Johnson said he further said he was "hoping you guys were going to just kille me." He reportedly added, " I should have just driven that bike into a concrete wall."
Kernstein remains held in the jail. Bond is set at $35,000 ,no 10 percent allowed and his initial hearing is set for Sept. 28 in Vigo Superior Court Div. 6 before Judge Michael Lewis.
© Indiana Central News. All rights reserved. Terre Haute, Indiana
News Writer: Lucy Perry