York Co. sheriff tells hundreds at vigil for officer, ‘we’ve got your back’
A York County deputy was hurt Friday after a suspect who led police on a chase fought with officers.
He was the third York County law enforcement officer injured in three days. On New Year’s Day, two York Police Department officers were hurt by a knife-wielding suspect at a Walmart.
Sgt. Travis Shealey suffered a broken hand in Friday morning’s scuffle, said York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson.
“Officers have to do a dangerous job,” Tolson said. “It is an unfortunate reality that they can be hurt by a suspect bent on violence.”
Deputies responded to a call around 10:30 p.m. Thursday on Mount Gallant Road, between York and Rock Hill, about Dennis Ashley Matthews, 40, Rock Hill being disorderly and asking family members for money.
Deputies found Matthews at the Walmart in western Rock Hill, officers said. Matthews fled in a truck down Miller Pond Road near the store, police said.
Matthews crashed the truck through a gate then went off the road into a yard where the truck became stuck, police said.
Matthews repeatedly refused to obey commands to get out of the truck and was reaching under the seat for what officers feared could be a gun, according to Tolson and the incident report.
Matthews then ran on foot and a K-9 team that included Shealy was called. Matthews was intercepted by Shealey and other officers in woods behind a church. Matthews was taken into custody around 12:40 a.m.
Matthews is charged with assault on a police officer while resisting arrest, damage to property and failure to stop for a blue light. He is being held without bond at the York County jail.
Matthews is a registered sex offender who was convicted of assault on a child in 2016, according to prosecutors, police and court records.
He also was convicted in August 2018 of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct and sentenced to serve 60 days on weekends. However, Matthews did not show up for jail for weekend incarceration, according to court and police records. Deputies had a bench warrant for his arrest on that conviction, records show.
Tolson described Shealey as “an excellent supervisor and superb deputy.”
In 2016, Shealey was awarded “Officer of the Year” by a civic group for his work in the community. In 2013, he was awarded the sheriff’s office lifesaving award. He also has been a volunteer firefighter and done other community service.
Friday’s incident happened almost a year after a York County deputy was killed and three other officers were wounded on a domestic violence call that turned into a shootout near York. Det. Mike Doty was killed, and sheriff’s office sergeants Buddy Brown and Randy Clinton were wounded in a Jan. 16, 2018, shooting.
Sgt. Kyle Cummings of the York Police Department, who was one of the officers hurt at Tuesday’s Walmart incident, also was shot in the January 2018 incident.
The man who shot the cops in January 2018, Christian McCall, is serving life in prison without parole after pleading guilty in May to murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Tolson said he hopes when law enforcement officers are victims of violence they are treated by the courts with the same rights as the suspects who are charged.
“This incident where an officer was hurt by a violent suspect, coming right after the incident in York where Kyle Cummings and the other officer were injured, shows how dangerous this job can be,” Tolson said. “And last year in January that surely showed the dangers law enforcement officers confront every day as they protect the public from people who are violent.”