UNION COUNTY, NC — The Union County Sheriff’s Office and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) are investigating a deputy involved shooting that happened Saturday afternoon following a high speed chase that ended in Lancaster County.
The incident started just before 3pm on Plyler Mill Road in Monroe. The UCSO says a neighbor reported a man, later identified as 31-year-old Joshua Thomas, trying to break into a home.
Deputy Sheriff Dakota Martinez was responding to the call, officials say, when he saw Thomas traveling toward him in a white Chevrolet Tahoe.
Thomas reportedly avoided the deputy by driving through a yard and onto Gus Eubanks Road toward South Carolina, and then proceeded to lead Deputy Martinez on a high speed pursuit.
The UCSO says Thomas crossed the center line multiple times during the chase and repeatedly ran off the side of the road, striking several mailboxes.
The chase finally ended when Thomas’ vehicle came to a stop on Camp Creek Road in Lancaster County, South Carolina.
Deputy Martinez says he took cover behind his patrol vehicle’s door and gave multiple commands for Thomas to exit and get on the ground. During this time, Union County Deputy Josh Deese also arrived to assist.
Officials say Thomas refused to comply with deputy commands and told Deputy Martinez, “You’re going to have to shoot me,” several times while reaching behind his back.
Thomas eventually exited the vehicle, officials say, but continued to act erratically.
Deputies say Thomas then opened the vehicle’s back door, and, despite numerous commands to stop and show his hands, leaned into the back seat.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office says Martinez feared he was going for a weapon and fired multiple rounds at the suspect.
Thomas reportedly stood up and moved to the other side of the road following the shots, and was tasered to the ground by Deputy Deese.
Officials say Thomas suffered non-life threatening gunshot injuries to the left shoulder and left ear, as well as an injury to the back of his head. It is unclear at this time whether the head injury was caused by the fall after being tased, officials say, or resulted from a struggle with a civilian near the Plyler Mill Road burglary scene.
UCSO detectives are continuing to investigate the reported burglary, property damage and larcenies prior to the original 911 call.
Charges against Thomas are forthcoming, officials say.
SLED is investigating the deputy involved shooting while the UCSO Professional Standard Division conducts an internal investigation to ensure departmental policies were followed.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office says Deputy Martinez has been placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of SLED’s investigation.