Fort Worth

‘We call it Tolerant County for a reason,’ officer says after man receives probation

Fort Worth Officer Matt Pearce unhappy with trial outcome

A man arrested in connection with a shooting that left one police officer near death was sentenced to two years probation. The police officer who was shot, Matt Pearce, is not satisfied with the sentence, but said he is used to the letdown
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A man arrested in connection with a shooting that left one police officer near death was sentenced to two years probation. The police officer who was shot, Matt Pearce, is not satisfied with the sentence, but said he is used to the letdown

After deliberating for about three hours Monday, a jury sentenced a man who ran from the scene of a near fatal police shooting to two years’ probation after finding him guilty of evading arrest and detention.

The Class A misdemeanor carries a maximum one-year jail sentence.

The jury found Ed McIver Jr., 23, of Weatherford, not guilty of two more serious charges — hindering apprehension of a fugitive or a felon and tampering with evidence.

Fort Worth Police Officer Matt Pearce testified Wednesday that he was one of the officers who chased McIver and his father, Ed McIver, to far north Fort Worth, where Pearce was shot several times. Pearce’s fellow officers found him hidden in the underbrush and gravely wounded.

Pearce, who said that he was not satisfied with the final verdict, called the outcome just the “typical Tarrant County letdown.”

“We call it Tolerant County for a reason,” Pearce said.

There is a CSI effect that convinces people that what happens on television is how investigations are in reality, Pearce said. People are placed on juries and they get stuck in that CSI mode, Pearce said.

After he shot Pearce, the elder McIver, 42, was shot and killed by police officers. McIver’s son was found in the same wooded area as his father about three hours later.

One juror, who declined to identify himself because of concerns about retaliation, said the jury was split evenly early on as to whether jail time or probation was most appropriate. The jurors used a white erase board to write down their options and that made it easier to come to the verdict.

“We had to write everything down before we could come to a decision,” the juror said.

A bond hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, and prosecutors said they will ask the judge to impose an additional 26 days of jail as a condition of McIver’s probation.

“This is a serious misdemeanor,” said Kevin Rousseau, Tarrant County prosecutor. “This is as serious as a misdemeanor can be.”

McIver Jr. was the passenger in an SUV driven by his father during a police chase that lasted more than 15 minutes on March 15, 2016. After the vehicle stopped, the younger McIver ran away holding a rifle in one hand and a handgun tucked into his pants, according to authorities.

Tarrant County prosecutors Lloyd Whelchel and Rousseau said Monday that because he ran, McIver deserved prison.

McIver’s defense attorneys argued that their client, a man who was on trial for leading police away from his father, a wanted felon, ran away because he was afraid and did not want to mistakenly be shot by police.

How do you avoid getting shot after a dangerous police chase at speeds of more than 100 mph if you are a reasonable person, Rousseau asked?

“You curl into a ball and stay where you’re at,” Rousseau told the jury during his closing arguments.

But when the SUV stopped, the father and son ran in opposite directions, Rousseau said.

“His conduct is not necessary unless he’s trying to pull the police away from his father,” Rousseau said about the younger McIver. “His conduct made a dangerous situation deadly. His conduct is identical to his father’s up until shots were fired.

“We are not asking you to hold him responsible for his father’s conduct. Hold him responsible for his own conduct.”

The elder McIver was a wanted felon being sought by police in connection with an aggravated assault charge and other offenses when he was spotted in Fort Worth.

Pearce, who was re-called to testify by the state immediately after the punishment phase of the trial began Monday, said time slowed down when he saw the elder McIver point his gun at him.

“It slowed down to the point where I could see the tip of the bullet come out of the barrel,” Pearce said.

The pain from a gunshot wound to his leg was unbearable, Pearce said. The bullet shattered his femur which is now supported by a metal rod, he said.

Other officers were trying to contact Pearce over the radio while the officer watched the shooter walk toward him and put his gun to his head. Pearce tried to answer the calls from his fellow officers but could see the shadow of the shooter hovering over him.

Pearce said he tucked his chin as he tried to answer.

“I pleaded with him not to shoot me,” he said. “That’s when the last round went off. I believe he wanted to make sure I was dead.”

Pearce’s injuries included a collapsed lung, a punctured diaphragm, a shattered right femur, a broken jaw, damage to his liver and spleen, and a nicked heart. He was given a 4 percent chance of living.

Rousseau argued that the younger McIver’s intent was to lead police away from his father and hide weapons. During a foot chase police believed both suspects had guns, according to testimony.

But McIver’s attorneys described their client as a man who was afraid and who begged his father to pull over as they were being pursued by police.

The younger McIver told police that he knew what he had done was wrong, but he ran because he was scared, said Bob Gill, one of the attorneys who defended the accused.

“This is a scary situation for him,” Brian Walker, another defense attorney, said earlier during the trial. “He’s thinking, ‘What’s going to happen when this stops?’”

McIver’s father handed his son two guns when he finally stopped the Ford Escape that police had been chasing, Walker said.

“His dad said, ‘If I make it, I’ll see you later,’” Walker said. “’If I don’t, I love you.’ And then he bolts.”

The younger McIver ran into the woods and tossed one of the guns away, Walker said. He was afraid that if police saw him they might have shot him, Walker said.

“Then he hears gunshots,” Walker said.

Pearce spent seven months recovering from his wounds before returning to light duty tasks at work.

The younger McIver had been charged twice with attempted capital murder, but two separate Tarrant County grand juries declined to indict him.

He was also charged with possession of a controlled substance and theft of a firearm, but each of those charges were dismissed.

This story includes information from Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

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